Home burns in historic district due to broken hydrants, weather

A local family loses their nearly 100-year-old colonial in the historic Boston Edison district to a fire.

During the blaze firefighters were thwarted, unable to find a working hydrant nearby. 

"What is a doctor with no scalpel?  A firefighter with no hose?" said Hayward Graves.

Graves says because Detroit firefighters had little water to work with Monday night, his home was destroyed.

Firefighters responding to the fire in Graves' basement could not hook up to a fire hydrant near his house because it hasn't been working for months.

He says another hydrant about 250 feet away provided little water pressure and little help.

"The fire hose would not reach more than 5 feet in front of where they were shooting," Hayward said.

According to the incident report, firefighters' efforts were hampered not only by the cold weather but inadequate water supply - low water pressure and extended lines.

Witnesses say firefighters practically had there hands tied.

"It was disheartening to see fire engines standing idle," said Marshauna Graves Moore, Hayward's sister. "With firefighters standing together with nothing to do but talk among themselves and shake their heads in helplessness."

"The fire chief himself said the house could've saved the house if hydrants had been working," Graves said.

Detroit Fire Commisioner Edsel Jenkins denies saying that to Graves.

"For me to say that the pressure on both of those hydrants had been up, they could have saved that house, I can't say that," Jenkins said. "Because I was not inside that structure, and I can't tell you how fast that fire was moving.

"Based on what I know and my experience, it could be 50/50."

The number of defective fire hydrants are down dramatically, Jenkins said, and only about 100 of 30,000 remain.

Detroit's Water and Sewerage Department repaired the faulty hydrants after the Graves home was destroyed.

The city is now investigating why they weren't working and why one of them was out of commission for months.

Graves and his wife Valerie used their savings to buy their house outright in 2011. He did almost all of the repairs himself and the home was even featured in one of Boston Edison's home tours.

But for all the blood, sweat and tears the Graves put into this nearly century-old brick colonial, they did not have homeowner's insurance.

"I just got a job after being unemployed for five years," he said. "I just got a job and was working towards insurance."

A neighbor is allowing the Graves to stay in her home after the fire destroyed theirs.

"She doesn't even want us to pay the bills," Graves said. "She doesn't want us to pay for anything."

Compassion for a couple at their lowest point. Their home a casualty perhaps of a city rebounding from the same plight.

"Although we have to start all over," Valerie said. "I know God is good and I know God is bringing us up to another level."

Neighbors are doing their part, one of them pastors at a church in the area which is donating $1,000 and they say more will be coming.

Others are providing groceries, food, clothing and cash. There is also a GoFundMe account online. CLICK HERE to help out.
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