Owner: Faulty hydrants led to Burly Bear fire - WNEM TV 5

Owner: Faulty hydrants led to Burly Bear fire

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© CBS 5 © CBS 5
PINETOP, AZ (CBS5) -

An Arizona business, known as the Burley Bear, recently burned to the ground in Pinetop and many believe worthless hydrants helped bring the piece of state history down.

Trent Penrod watched his business go up in flames.

"Everything is either water or smoke damage," Penrod said.

Penrod believes the fire could have been prevented.

The first hydrant firefighters tapped was dead, so from there they went to the next one which was about 1,500 feet away but they discovered that one didn't have enough water pressure.

CBS 5 News learned from the fire reports that there were several problems with the hydrants.

The chief of the Pinetop Fire Department said he used to test the fire hydrants on a regular basis but about four years ago the water company told them to stop testing.

David Burks, the general manager at Pinetop Water, claims that's untrue.

Burks said Pinetop water maintains the fire hydrants, but said his company doesn't test them regularly.

"We don't do the actual test on them. As far as a flow test? We don't flow test them," Burks said.

"I could say right now I believe all our fire hydrants are working but the problem with the hydrant and any water company will say the same thing - I can't guarantee if you go out tomorrow the hydrant will work," Burks said.

CBS 5 News checked with other cities to see how they handle hydrants with water pressure issues. In Phoenix, hydrants with low water pressure are painted red to alert firefighters.

In Pinetop, the Burley Bear fire has sparked a political inferno that's reached all the way to the town council.

"It's been going on about 20 years where these hydrants are not tested or working properly," Pinetop Lakeshire Town councilor Dara Vanesian said.

"The town is stating it's more of a water company issue rather than the town issue. And the water company is saying it's the fire department's responsibility and so on and so forth. There's a lot of finger pointing going on," Vanesian said.

All that finger pointing has Trent Penrod and others wondering what will happen next time something catches fire.

CBS 5 News spoke with several fire departments that responded to the fire and they said they could not have saved the building even if the hydrants had been working properly.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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