Fire hydrant inspections promised after fatal fire

Report due by next Jourdanton City Council meeting


JOURDANTON, Texas – In the aftermath of a fire hydrant that was "inadvertently turned off" at the scene of a fatal mobile home fire March 9, according to Jourdanton City Manager Dan Nick

all 100 hydrants will be inspected before its next meeting -- then he'll report on the status of each one.

However, David Prasifka, chief of the Jourdanton Volunteer Fire Department, said he's been complaining to city council since last year.

Nick made his statement to the city council on Tuesday.

Residents also have expressed their concerns about other hydrants in the city.

"It finally came to two deaths that brought it out in the public's eye," Prasifka said.       

Carolyn Appleton and James Crabb, both in their sixties, were trapped in the fire that night and died.

"Could we have saved them? Well, I don't know," Prasifka said.

If not, Prasifka said his volunteer firefighters from Jourdanton and Pleasanton at least could have saved more of the structure to help investigators determine the cause But, he said much of it was burned to the ground.

"The one thing we always depend on, we open the hydrant and all the water need to fight a fire, and it ain't there," Prasifka said.

He said firefighters that night laid fire hose over five blocks to the nearest hydrant, but then were forced to truck in water tankers normally used at fires in rural areas.

Prasifka said he's never had much confidence in the city's fire hydrants, but now especially.

He said as it is, his firefighters go by hydrant maps that date back to the 1960s.

If there is another fire before the city completes the necessary inspections, Prasifka said if he learns a hydrant is not working at a fire scene, he will order his firefighters to get out of a burning structure, even if other lives are at stake.

Looking at his firefighters standing outside city hall on Monday night, Prasifka said, "I'm sorry, but these are the priority."