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Firefighters Battle Fire and Water Woes

Firefighters Battle Fire and Water Woes

By Justin Pazera. CREATED Jul 22, 2013

Omaha, NE -- Flames shot of the Applewood Pointe Apartments at 96th and Q last month. Neighbors could only watch as their possessions burned. Then just this past Friday, another apartment fire near 144th and West Center. We've uncovered in both cases, firefighters had trouble getting to something that might seem simple, water supply and access. When it comes to apartment complexes, the space is tight. It's hot and there is little room to park the trucks.

"They get squeezed in and then we have hose laying everywhere running from one truck to another and into the building. It just tends to be a real mess," said Bill Bowes.  He has headed up Papillion's fire department for seven years. He says hydrants also can be tough to find. "The hydrants aren't going to be conveniently located," said Bowes. "It's not like on a residential street where a hydrants at the corner and we can run a hose right down the street to the front of the house."

We checked where hydrants are at the two apartments complexes hit by big fires. Near 140th and West Center, one is right in front of the burned building but the other two are around corners. At Applewood Pointe, two are close to the charred structure but one is completely blocked by buildings. "We would like to see more in different locations throughout the complex that they aren't necessarily required to put in there," said Bowes.

Bowes says that's part of the problem, rental companies normally do not install more than what's required. Kim Roux has lived in an apartment for several years. "It makes me a little nervous," said Roux. "It's a pretty compact area. There's a lot of people who live in there. It doesn't just affect one family it's affecting multiple."

The City of Papillion and Metro Utilities both say it costs about $3,500 to install a fire hydrant. The parent company of Apple Creek Apartment near West Center sent Action 3 News a statement saying in-part, "Apple Creek Apartments meets city code requirements for fire hydrants with five hydrants within the Apple Creek Apartment community."