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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Toys and debris in a private fire hydrant, not maintained by the city, clogged a fire hose and slowed the firefighting during an apartment fire on Pacific Avenue in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, July 11, 2012.

SALT LAKE CITY — Crews stopped a one-alarm fire from spreading beyond the kitchen of an apartment Wednesday, but not before debris in a fire hydrant threatened the work of firefighters. 

The fire began just after 2 p.m. at 1459 W. Pacific Ave., Salt Lake City Fire spokesman Jasen Asay said. A woman and three children live at the residence but were not at home when the fire started. The cause of the fire remained under investigation Wednesday.

Asay said the fire was located in the middle of three apartment units. The neighboring residents self-evacuated, he said, and were allowed to return to their homes Tuesday afternoon.

While firefighters were working on the fire, they noticed that water pressure from a private hydrant on the property was abnormally low, Asay said. After disconnecting the hose from a fire engine, firefighters found children's toys and garbage that had been stuck in the hydrant and was interfering with water flow.

Asay said the debris was removed before it delayed firefighting efforts but had the potential to cause a major delay.

"It could have, but fortunately our firefighters figured it out quickly and fixed the situation," Asay said.

He said city hydrants are routinely checked, but hydrants on private property are maintained by property owners. He said it's important that owners of private hydrants check for proper service and debris on a regular basis.

Asay said fire hydrants have detachable caps as well as a mechanism that opens up water flow, which allows for a hydrant to be opened without releasing water.

While there are children who live at the damaged apartment, Asay said it was unclear how long the items had been inside and added that the family's apartment was one of several on the property.

"We don't have any reason to believe that this family were the ones that stuck things in the hydrant," Asay said. 

The apartment received major water and smoke damage to the kitchen and minor water damage throughout the first floor. The fire was extinguished within 30 minutes, Asay said.

"Our firefighters did a really good job of keeping the fire from spreading," he said. "They knocked it down and got it out."

Benjamin Wood