LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

CHARLOTTE, N.C. There are new details about an apartment fire that left 12 people homeless on Wednesday.

NewsChannel 36 has learned Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities knew there was a missing fire hydrant near where the fire erupted but hadn t replaced it yet.

The Charlotte Fire Department confirmed they told CMU in October 2011 that the hydrant was missing, and a man who lives in the area said he called twice to report problems with the hydrant at the intersection of Elgywood Lane and Austin Drive.

Thomas Holman was the first to move in on the street 15 years ago. He walks the Hidden Valley neighborhood every day, knows the people and their homes.

Holman was shocked to come home and see the apartments across the street on fire Tuesday.

I see them running water lines...I said (the) hydrant (has) been out for months (and) he told me they were going to check on why this hydrant is out, he said.

Holman said he first called the city about a problem with the fire hydrant last year when there was a leak. He called a second time when he noticed the hydrant was gone completely.

Somebody hit it and nobody came out to fix it. They put a cone over top and took it. Now it s just a hole down there. Somebody (is) not doing their job as far as taking care of fire hydrants, Holman added.

Vic Simpson, a spokesman for CMU, said the hydrant is on a list with about 50 to 100 others that need to be fixed across the city. Simpson said because of staffing cuts in recent years, they don t have enough staff to get them as quickly as they d like.

Simpson added they recently received the green light to hire more people and are looking to fill hydrant maintenance positions. He also says the hydrant at Austin Drive will be fixed this week.

As for how the missing hydrant impacted fighting the fire, Mark Basnight with the Charlotte Fire Department said, The missing fire hydrant did not significantly impact fire suppression operations.

Basnight said multiple other fire hydrants were there for firefighters to use.

The fire, which was accidentally started in a kitchen, damaged six apartments and caused $200,000 in damages.

Read or Share this story: http://www.wcnc.com/story/news/local/2014/06/30/10838518/