Crews Battle Fire And Water Problems

WILLIAMSPORT — Firefighters ran into trouble while fighting a fire in Williamsport because of a water main break.

Authorities say the water main broke when crews opened the fire hydrant. According to firefighters, that break caused a delay of five or 10 minutes in getting water on the fire.

Officials say the house on Newberry Street in Williamsport was destroyed in Tuesday morning’s fire.

Another eight homes lost water for several hours because of the water main break.  Neighbors are concerned because the water main broke when it was needed most.

Smoke and flames forced a woman and her four-year-old daughter to climb through a window to escape their burning home on Newberry Street in Williamsport.  Crews not only fought flames, they also battled a water main break.

“The increase in the water draw caused the main break,” said Doug Keith of the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority.

According to crews on scene, when firefighters turned on this fire hydrant around 5 a.m., the water main broke.  it took firefighters about five or 10 minutes to hook up to another hydrant about a block away. Eight homes on Newberry Street lost water because of the break.

“I was standing up closer to the fire scene and someone said the water main broke right in front of my house.  I walked in my basement and I had water in the basement,” said Jim Huggins.

“You can’t use anything.  You can’t drink it, you can’t shower, you can’t do anything, there’s no water!”  Shirley Dieffenbach exclaimed.

The Williamsport Municipal Water Authority says it has a seven-year plan for upgrading the city’s water lines. Work on Newberry Street was scheduled for 2015.

“There are areas, and that’s why we have a seven-year plan.  That’s why we have millions of dollars that we’re putting into the system.  We do believe that for the most part we have appropriate pressures and we can handle fires as they occur.”  Keith added.

Newberry residents worry it will happen again, losing water when it is needed the most.

“”It’s a shame it had to happen here where they needed a lot of water and the main broke,” Huggins added.

The residents on Newberry Street who lost water got it back around noon.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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