• Last modified 85 days ago (Feb. 28, 2024)


Firefighters told to limit

water use

Staff writer

Fifteen minutes after starting to battle a fire Monday in Ramona, firefighters were told not to fill their trucks because of a water shortage.

“The operator called and said to be very conservative with water,” Ramona Fire Chief Nathan Brunner said.

If it weren’t for Herington firefighters, those from Ramona, Tampa, and Lincolnville would have been hard pressed for water, especially after the fire spread along the ground from a shed to the side of a house.

At Bruner’s request, Herington Fire Chief Andrew Avantagiato brought tankers to fight the fire.

“We brought water support and manpower support,” Avantagiato said.

After being told not to fill tankers with water from Rural Water District No. 1, firefighters planned to import water from Centre High School, more than 11 miles away. That wasn’t necessary, however, because the fire was brought under control within 30 minutes and extinguished 30 minutes after that.

Brunner nonetheless was angry that water operator Autumn Chisholm hadn’t warned area fire departments that the water system was so low.

“Getting the call after the response was very, very concerning,” he said. “Three or four phone calls wouldn’t be too much to do.”

A different rural water district does a good job of notifying people when water supplies are low, he said.

County commission chairman David Mueller said part of the problem was the size of water pipes leading to Ramona. They are too small to install fire hydrants, he said.

The water district also has been dealing with leaks that have to be repaired, Mueller said.

Ramona Fire Department installed an underground tank when a new fire house was built, but it is awaiting parts before it will be operational, Brunner said.

Chisholm did not return a call after a message was left on her phone.

Tampa Fire Chief Greg Berens was not at the fire Monday.

“I know they’ve had some leaks and were down,” Berens said.

He added that he’d thought the water district was back up to speed.

Last modified Feb. 28, 2024