Concerns emerge after fire department’s response to Fort Myers flames

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro
Published: Updated:

Flames burst from a home, all while neighbors and others watched until one of the homes burned to the ground.

People in the Paseo community are claiming the first responders’ performance during Saturday’s fire was not up to par.

FMFD fighting structure fire in a community. CREDIT: WINK News

The fire spread quickly and took firefighters considerable time to start extinguishing.

It’s clear how large and widespread the flames were by looking at parts of the charred home that were still left standing.

The couple and both of their corgis who live in the home were not hurt. However, neighbors said the fire hydrant in front of their home took crews multiple tries and nearly 10 minutes to get open.

The neighbors also said that when crews finally got the hydrant to work, the lack of water pressure was apparent.

“You have to open the cap to access the water, and they absolutely could not get it open,” said John Miller, one of the next-door neighbors.

Miller watched as four firefighters worked to get the hydrant open. One picture was taken showing a firefighter still trying to connect to the hydrant seven minutes after crews got to the scene.

“Our concern is we have access to a fire hydrant so close to our homes, and then not being able to access them is very concerning to us,” said Miller.

Other neighbors, like Mat Galliagn, who lives behind the home that caught fire, said once they got the hydrant open, the water pressure was nonexistent.

“The only high-pressure stuff they had was foam they were spraying on the house,” said Galligan.

WINK News spoke to Tracy McMillion, the Fort Myers Fire Chief, who owned up to one of those concerns.

“Unfortunately, the hydrant that is right up on the house is not anybody’s system. It’s nowhere to be found, and we have to take ownership of that, and so that particular hydrant had not been serviced and goodness knows how long. We didn’t have any idea it was there,” said McMillion.

The hydrants should be serviced annually. That means they should be flushed out, have the pressure checked and cap greased.

This explains why the cap to that particular hydrant took crews so long to get off.

Despite claims from neighbors saying the water pressure was lacking, McMillion said the water pressure was great. McMillion noted the water was pushing at 50 pounds of pressure.

He explained the fire started in the garage in the exact place the couple has a gas golf cart.

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