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Trying to Fight Rural Fires Without Water

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WILSON COUNTY — A fire breaks out and firefighters rush to the scene to battle the flames. It's dangerous and back-breaking work.

To top it off, some firefighters are at an even bigger disadvantage. They have to take a truck to ponds and hydrants to get water and haul it to the scene of the fire.

Imagine staring down a major fire, knowing you have to put it out, when your nearest water source is miles away.

It happened in Wilson County Wednesday, and it could happen in just about any rural area. A typical residential well cannot come close to the water pressure that firefighters need.

"My well, for instance, produces about six gallons of water a minute," said Emergency Management Coordinator Gordon Deno. "The average engine that we use to fight fire will pump about 1,500 gallons a minute."

Rural volunteer firefighters say they work just as effectively and quickly as any department. But part of their job is finding water, and ponds are one of their primary sources.

"You first have to find out who's got the property the pond is on, and you go ask them can you do it," said Captain Greg Gates of the Black Creek Volunteer Fire Department. "The people help out; they help out a lot."

A county-wide water system would help, but many counties still do not have one.

Earlier this year the idea died in Wilson County, because too few people signed up for it. Until a new system is in place, volunteers will be forced to get water wherever they can find it.

"We have 14 tankers hauling water," said Gates. "Each tanker holds a thousand gallons, so you can imagine the water that is used."

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
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