By Charles Prince
HEBRON – Engine 3, a 2001 model, is out of service after a live electric supply line fell on the truck after it rolled up to a house fire early Wednesday morning on Newark Street.
The engine was the first to arrive on the scene following a 01:47:25 a.m. dispatch to a report of a working residential fire.
A total of seven departments – Buckeye Lake, Heath, Licking Township, Millersport, Newark and West Licking Joint Fire District – were dispatched at the same time to the fire that took the life of home’s sole occupant. All seven departments were involved in extinguishing the fire and keeping the fire from spreading to a nearby home.
Hebron Fire Chief Clifford Mason addressed a Columbus television station report after Wednesday evening’s council meeting held at the fire station for Fire Prevention Week. That report claimed firefighters positioned the engine too close to the fully engulfed home, causing damage to the engine. In fact, the truck was positioned property, Mason said. The truck was damaged and firefighters were temporarily trapped in the truck when the live electric supply line to the home snapped, with the exposed live end hitting the engine and eventually ending up draped over the right side of the front bumper. The wildly arcing power line damaged the windshield, melted all the lenses for the lights on the right side of the engine, scorched lettering and emblems on that side and burned through fire hoses. “Absolutely they (firefighters) did nothing wrong,” Mason emphasized Wednesday evening.
Firefighters were eventually able to jump to safety, but Mason reported it took nearly 1.5 hours for an AEP crew to arrive and de-energize the line. Firefighters put cones around the engine to protect arriving firefighters from the live electric line.
Firefighters were able to drive the engine back to the station, but suspect that considerable damage has been done to the engine’s electrical and electronic systems. For example, smoke was billowing out of the vehicle’s air conditioning unit until it was shut down.
Hebron has another engine available. It is an older model that was rebuilt in 1996. The department was in the early stages of replacing the damaged engine with a new model. That effort will likely now be expedited and Mason is looking for a loaner to replace the engine while it is out of service for repairs.