Dunbar home destroyed by fire shines light on lack of fire hydrants

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DUNBAR, WV (WOWK) — Timothy Koontz’s house near Woodrum Lane in Dunbar caught on fire recently. He was camping and not home during the fire. The Dunbar Fire Department did everything they could to put the fire out, but his house burned to the ground.

“When you get out into an area such as Woodrum Lane where there are no fire hydrants, 1,500 gallons of water seems like a lot, but it’s really not, so we did what we could with the initial 1,500 gallons, but it wasn’t enough,” Josh Bowers, Assistant Chief of Dunbar Fire Department said.

Without a close fire hydrant, firefighters had to rely on filling tanks of water from a hydrant far away, which takes about 20 minutes each time.

“When he arrived on scene and expressed to us that he had made the comment that he wanted hydrants out that way, and we don’t have any and they’ve asked for them and they can’t get it. That can make a difference in life or death,” Bowers said.

Bowers says, most hydrants in the city of Dunbar are about 300 to 500 feet away from a house. When you get outside the city, fire hydrants are farther. Especially, in the Tyler Mountain area. Residents say, they have fought to put more fire hydrants in the neighborhood.

The closest fire hydrant to Timothy Koontz home is about a mile away. Firefighters say, if one had been closer his house could have been saved. Even though Timothy Koontz lost a great deal, he remains grateful.

“It’s just pretty heavy, but I got past that. Today’s a new day, tomorrow we’re moving forward. I just don’t know how to say that. It’s more a feeling than words. There’s nothing in the house that can’t be replaced, the house can be replaced, none of that stuff matters. I’m just glad my dog, who means everything in the world to me, was with me,” Koontz said.

With the love and support from his family, friends, and his dog Lilly… he finds hope.

“I was walking around the remains and I noticed on the corner of the porch there were two terracotta lovebirds that were basically unscathed. Maybe that’s a promise of tomorrow,” said Koontz.

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