WILMER, Ala. (WPMI) When Sheila Keevan of Wilmer saw her neighbor's house on fire Sunday, she called 911. The Wilmer Volunteer Fire department kicked in to action, rushing to the house on Venus Drive, where they drug a hose to a nearby hydrant.
But hope quickly turned to disappointment.
"Yeah, but they hooked up the hose and the fire hydrant didn't work!" exclaimed Sheila.
Instead of flame quenching water, something else came out.
"When they undone the cap," recalled Sheila, "a big clump of red clay came out, and water, barely drizzling out."
Using a water truck and a hydrant way up the street, the volunteers were able to finally put down the blaze. Homeowner Laura Howell, an emergency room nurse who had been out of town celebrating her birthday, came home to a burned out trailer.
Every fire is important, but for the Wilmer Volunteer department, this one was especially so. You see, this house belonged to one of their own.
Howell is a volunteer fire fighter with the Wilmer Department. Sshe has been there for them when they needed her.
No one knows that more than fire chief Mike Cooper, whose son was in a terrible car accident two years ago.
"She was the first one on scene," he said, quietly. "And if she hadn't have been the first one there to safe him, he wouldn't be with us today."
Now, this department has two chores before it, helping one of their own and restoring confidence in Wilmer's system of fire hydrants.
Monday, Chief Cooper told Local 15 both the fire department and South Alabama Utilities share the responsibility of testing the hydrants, something he said he wasn't aware of until several months ago.
"So we've been in the process of going around checking all of the fire hydrants," he said. "I've got a list of the ones that don't work that I've got to take to South Alabama Utilities."
And what about that fire hydrant that didn't work Sunday?
Sheila Keevan was there Monday morning when South Alabama Utilities came out and turned the hydrant on. She says water came gushing out