SEVERE WX : Dense Fog Advisory View Alerts

Fire hydrants stopped pumping water during the Almeda Fire

With water running at near maximum capacity all day as crews tried to fight the flames, fire crews couldn't get water from fire hydrants late Tuesday night.

Posted: Sep 25, 2020 6:28 PM

PHOENIX, Ore. — It was a worst-case scenario for firefighters who had spent their entire day fighting the Almeda Fire on September 8, 2020. No water was coming out of the fire hydrants.

"I've never seen a circumstance like we had that day," Jackson County Fire District 5 Captain Aaron Bustard said. "The hydrant would be working and a few minutes to an hour later, there would just be no water. The hydrants were going empty."

(Photo courtesy of Sean Roberts)

An extremely rare circumstance for fire crews.

"If we lose pressure on one hydrant, it's usually an issue with that individual hydrant for the most part," Bustard says.

But it was city-wide and as crews continued to try and stop the Almeda Fire's spread, firefighters had to adapt. Crews rotated engines and water tenders to Ashland where they would fill up with water then drive back to the Talent-Phoenix area. Those trips would pull at least two firefighters off the fight and take anywhere from 15-30 minutes.

The trip only got longer as the night went on with downed powerlines and poles, blocking routes for the engines. Challenges continued to mount.

"Now you have not just one structure, but you have multiple structures and all this grassy area woods, you name it, going on fire," Bustard said. "And we have no water."

The loss of water pressure has a few explanations.

One factor: buildings that burned left open plumbing with nothing to stop their water lines from flowing. More than 23-hundred homes and businesses burned the night of the Almeda Fire.

Another factor: the Talent-Ashland-Phoenix (TAP) intertie pipeline that supplies talent and phoenix water from the Medford water commission. The commission says it was able to supply the water needed by the pump station that supplies Talent and Phoenix their water.

The TAP pump station has four pumps that can push water down the pipeline. Only three pumps run at a time, according to the Medford Water Commission. The pump station puts out about 4,000 gallons per minute.

In comparison, fire hydrants in Jackson County Fire District 5 use 850 gallons per minute on average, according to the district's fire chief Charles Hanley. Four open hydrants would basically take the rationed water's flow for Phoenix; a fifth hydrant would deplete it.

"That's difficult for me cause my inclinations if we have a fire, we want to put it out," Bustard said. "We don't, we don't want to sit there and let a fire burn and get bigger. And I know it was very hard for the community when they see that to understand that we're still doing everything we can, we're just limited by the water and the tools we have."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 132412

Reported Deaths: 1799
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah28237458
Washington18512171
Marion16085238
Clackamas11577138
Lane8219108
Jackson686284
Umatilla670968
Deschutes490736
Yamhill316245
Malheur312452
Linn310246
Klamath242238
Polk241340
Josephine170633
Jefferson168725
Benton168414
Douglas166643
Union110416
Wasco106323
Columbia103318
Lincoln98517
Hood River94821
Coos93315
Morrow92710
Clatsop6695
Crook60410
Baker5665
Tillamook3622
Curry3185
Lake2295
Grant2131
Harney1734
Wallowa963
Gilliam481
Sherman470
Wheeler201
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2955323

Reported Deaths: 33342
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles100392313741
San Bernardino2482851560
Riverside2352352517
San Diego2098972065
Orange2093652320
Santa Clara914661060
Kern83547558
Sacramento802791080
Fresno79950932
Alameda65679757
Ventura59061412
San Joaquin56484748
Contra Costa50627430
Stanislaus41925739
Tulare40176501
Monterey34959249
San Mateo31291294
San Francisco28574254
Imperial24944463
Solano24654105
Santa Barbara23538228
Merced23492296
Sonoma23204234
Kings18661110
Placer16761173
San Luis Obispo15129128
Madera12883130
Santa Cruz11776113
Marin11345153
Yolo10240131
Shasta9594117
Butte9233121
El Dorado751544
Sutter748477
Napa723139
Lassen509413
San Benito485043
Yuba481827
Tehama397142
Tuolumne330438
Nevada309973
Mendocino307631
Amador295329
Lake243428
Humboldt226324
Glenn182419
Colusa16919
Calaveras153823
Siskiyou140813
Mono10834
Inyo92429
Del Norte8472
Plumas5735
Modoc3783
Mariposa3434
Trinity3024
Alpine730
Sierra700
Unassigned00
Medford
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 40°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 60°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 40°
Medford
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 40°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 28°
Clearing tonight, brighter tomorrow
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Oregon State falls to No. 11 Arizona on the road, 67-51

Image

Weinermobile Story

Image

Car thief returns to scold mother

Image

MLK Day Virtual Event

Image

Jackson County reports 30 new cases

Image

Sunday, January 17th Evening Weather

Image

A block 12/24 part two

Image

Medford School District Plans for the Future of the COVID-19 Vaccine

Image

Astronomers discover "Super Earth"

Image

Super Planet discovered in Milkway Galaxy