Homeowner sues water company for faulty fire hydrants after home destroyed in fire

A homeowner has filed a lawsuit against West Virginia American Water after three fire hydrants...
A homeowner has filed a lawsuit against West Virginia American Water after three fire hydrants near their home were nonfunctional on May 5.(WSAZ)
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 9:01 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WSAZ/Gray News) - A homeowner in West Virginia has filed a lawsuit against a water company after firefighters reportedly encountered low water pressure at nearby fire hydrants that led to the destruction of their home.

WSAZ reports the fire in question occurred at a house on May 5. Firefighters arrived roughly five minutes after the initial call. However, crews didn’t gain control of the flames until about four hours later.

According to the lawsuit, the fire hydrants near the home were nonfunctional and failed to deliver enough water pressure to fight the fire.

The homeowner said they lost personal belongings and the family dog in the fire.

“[The homeowner] was forced to endure those consequences when his home burned to the ground while firefighters scrambled around the neighborhood for hours desperately searching for a fire hydrant with water supply,” the lawsuit reads. “[The homeowner] and neighbors looked on in dismay as firefighters scoured the neighborhood, trying – but failing – to get water out of the three hydrants.”

The lawsuit claims American Water Company failed its legal and contractual duties to deliver sufficient water pressure to the fire hydrants.

According to the lawsuit, the homeowner seeks to hold the water company accountable for failing to maintain adequate water pressure.

In a statement, water authorities said the three hydrants were installed on 4-inch water mains and have since been out of service.

According to WSAZ, state law changed nearly 30 years ago, requiring all hydrants to be installed on 6-inch water mains with larger lines allowing for the water flow needed to fight fires.

In 2017, the water company added a surcharge to customers’ bills for infrastructure improvements.

In media releases, the company stated that specific amounts of money would be used for upgrades and replacement of fire hydrants.

According to the complaint, the house destroyed in the fire was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Since the fire, the water company has reportedly covered the non-functioning fire hydrants with garbage bags.