“There was plenty of wood, plenty of oxygen, and off to the races it went,” Hannigan said.
The largest challenge in fighting the blaze was the water supply as that area of Franklin Twp. does not have water lines or fire hydrants. Many of the homes in that part of Warren County are above the Great Miami Aquifer which is one of the largest sources of water in North America.
Because of that, many people rely on private water wells, even though many have sewer service from Warren County.
Fire crews called for aid from surrounding fire departments in Butler, Warren, and Montgomery counties, particularly tanker trucks to go to the city of Franklin or to Poasttown School in adjacent Madison Twp. for additional water resupplies. He said many of the tanker trucks came from the rural areas in eastern Warren County and western Butler County.
Hannigan said the lack of fire hydrants can take some time to establish a significant supply. He said fire trucks first arrive with about 1,000 gallons of water, he said, but once that it was expended, crews have to wait for more to arrive.
He said that by the end they had used about 12,000 to 13,000 gallons of water available in tankers from several fire departments lined up on Castlebrook Drive, but the system took about a half-hour to set up.
“It’s just how it is,” Hannigan said. “It doesn’t mean I like it, but it’s how it is.”
There were no injuries in the fire, which brought in fire crews from Warren, Butler and Montgomery counties.By late Monday morning, neighbors were continuing to digest the damage. John O’Donnell, who has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years, said the scene overnight was “total chaos” because of all the activity. O’Donnell said he could not remember seeing a fire that bad since he’s lived in the neighborhood.
“I feel so bad for my neighbors,” he said.
Ellen Haddix of Middletown was visiting family down the street, but could not leave as fire trucks and other first responders were blocking Torrington Drive. She and her family members walked down the street to see the fire.
“It was devastating,” Haddix said.
Rechell Hisle, a resident of one of the burned houses, was holding her grandson and fell asleep in the living room. When she woke up, she walked toward the back of the house and saw the fire. She grabbed her grandson, woke up her fiance, got out of the house and called 911.
From there, she said, there was nothing to do but wait and watch as the fire spread and burned the house. Hisle said that the fire department arrived 10-15 minutes after she called.