Photo via Baltimore Fire Department/Twitter

City fire officials are looking into what kept two fire hydrants from opening up during a Monday afternoon blaze in Curtis Bay that left nearly two dozen people displaced.

City Fire Chief Niles Ford showed up at City Hall this morning to discuss the department’s upcoming Open House and Resource Fair on Saturday, but ended up mostly addressing questions about why the couple of hydrants didn’t work when units tried to use them for water supply lines while extinguishing a spreading three-alarm fire.

Ford said the hydrants are typically checked for water flow every six months, but that these two were examined as recently as nine and 45 days before, respectively. He said such instances are “not extraordinarily common,” but that “our folks are trained to deal with emergency situations.”

The blaze in question burned through 10 homes – two of them vacant – on the 1600 block of Hazel Street, putting 23 people temporarily out of shelter. One firefighter suffered minor injuries and a civilian was transported, according to the department. Units extinguished the fire by around 6 p.m.

After firefighters found the two hydrants wouldn’t open up, they “selected alternative water sources” and “adjusted pretty rapidly,” Ford told reporters. The hydrants couldn’t have been that damaged, as Ford noted Department of Public Works crews showed up on the scene during the ordeal and managed to fix them within several hours.

Ford said the department is still investigating both what caused the fire that spread through the row homes, and what caused the hydrants to fail. “Yes, it sounds like a major deal,” he added, “but it is something that we do all of the time.”

ABC2 reported yesterday that some residents on the block were able to return to their homes, and the Red Cross is housing some of those who were put out.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...