KPCC News In Brief

Officials unveil why Yorba Linda fire hydrants failed during wildfire

Yorba Linda water district officials blame a computer for the failure of key fire hydrants during this month’s Freeway Complex fire. KPCC’s Susan Valot says the fire destroyed more than 180 homes.

Susan Valot: Firefighters in the upper reaches of Yorba Linda arrived at the fire to find raging flames – and no water in the fire hydrants. They had to stand by and watch homes burn.

Now, a Yorba Linda Water District spokesman says the hydrants may have shut themselves down when something damaged a computerized communications link. Then, the water district says a backup gas-powered water pump failed because it got too hot.

Water officials say they had no idea the failure happened until they saw coverage of the problem on TV. They say the pump system for the hydrants was designed to deal with fires at maybe one or two homes – but not with a full-on firestorm.

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January 2009

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