“It’s a community choice:” Firefighters challenged fighting fire in River Hills and here’s why

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RIVER HILLS -- Firefighters were challenged this weekend in River Hills, when they were forced to fight a fire with no hydrants nearby. It's a scenario the North Shore Fire Department deals with often.

"It`s a community choice," Robert Whitaker, chief of the North Shore Fire Department said.

But the decision to not have fire hydrants in River Hills makes firefighters' jobs a bit more challenging.

Fire trucks lined up along Green Tree Road on Saturday night, September 19th as crews battled a house fire in River Hills. Firefighters did their best to salvage the structure, but they were challenged.

River Hills fire

River Hills fire

"We were able to shift those personnel and establish dropping those pools and dumping water. Very well-built structure -- which posed a little bit of a challenge to get our operation in the nooks and crannies and find where the fire was hiding," Lt. Dan Tyke with the North Shore Fire Department said.

Firefighters tried using a hydrant hundreds of feet away in Glendale -- but it wasn't as helpful as firefighters had hoped.

House fire in River Hills

House fire in River Hills

"Unfortunately there was a water main break in the area, so the pressure was not what we liked," Whitaker said.

Crews then had to rely on other resources to fight this fire.

"We dispatched four water tankers right away. Each one of them has about 3,000 gallons of water -- sometimes more on them," Whitaker said.

The fire was extinguished in about an hour, but the damage was done.

"We are estimating about $200,000," Lt. Tyk said.

As the homeowners now deal with this cost, residents in River Hills would have to pay a different price to make changes in the village.

"There is an infrastructure cost to have water in your community -- municipal water. You have to have the pipe. You have to have the water plant. You have to have the filtration plant. You have to have the pumps, maintenance crews all ready to maintain that system," Whitaker said.

House fire in River Hills

House fire in River Hills

It's a cost the River Hills village manager says residents haven't shown an interest in paying. He says since the village was established, everyone has been satisfied with wells and getting water.

Fire officials say they don't think the outcome this weekend would have been much different if fire hydrants were in place.

However, neighborhoods nearby, such as Bayside, have begun using fire hydrants.