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Fire destroys vacant EL house

Morning Journal/Stephanie Ujhelyi Residents in the East Liverpool, Chester and Wellsville areas all saw the plume of smoke and flames emerging from 906 Alton St., where the house was on fire Saturday afternoon.

EAST LIVERPOOL — Once again, city firefighters battled water supply on the city’s west end during a weekend structure fire.

Crews found a vacant home in the 900 block of Alton Street fully involved after being dispatched there shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday.

According to a report drafted by Assistant Fire Chief Eric Croxall, fire personnel had to use “landlines to protect surrounding brush and debris” as the fire spread into the living quarters from an attached garage area.

The property, which was valued at $10,000 and owned by Ben Peters, was a total loss.

“Reports from neighbors were that young men were seen inside the attached garage on multiple times, including this day,” Croxall said, after stating that the fire was “intentional” and ruling that the heat source and item of ignition were undetermined.

This comes months after public outcry surrounding a fire in the 900 block of Florence Street, where the home’s occupants had to jump from a second floor window to escape the blaze. Firefighters tried two water hydrants in the area during the August blaze, finding one to be broken and the other with low water pressure. With that fire, crews had to be called for manpower and water tankers from St. Clair and Liverpool Township fire departments as well as Newell and Lawrenceville in West Virginia to establish a tanker shuttle, allowing for a “constant flow of water.”

However, as Croxall noted in this case, it wasn’t a viable option, as “access (to the location) was limited due to a narrow road.”

According to fire personnel, it wasn’t an issue with nonfunctional hydrants this time around. Fire Chief Bill Jones said Sunday morning, “The hydrants appeared to work fine. They just lacked the volume and pressure of water (that firefighters) need to properly extinguish the fire.”

The Peters’ home, which is a single-story, seven-room house at 906 Alton, was built in 1930. It had no utilities and had been certified delinquent for property taxes in 2018, which is the same year that Peters had passed away, according to Columbiana County online property records.

In communities like Emporia, Kansas, fire officials used to flow test all the hydrants in town every four years and color code them according to the amount of water each hydrant flowed per minute. According to their local newspaper, red hydrants flow up to 500 gallons per minute, while yellow 500 to 1000, green 1,000 to 1,500, and blue 1,500 and above.

Many communities have found their problems result either from pipes that are smaller in diameter or have accumulation and debris buildup within the older areas of town.

It is unknown what measures that East Liverpool officials may pursue to address the water supply issues.

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