V.I. Fire Service Director Daryl George Sr., tired but still going on Monday afternoon, dispelled rumors circulating that fire hydrants in Fort Mylner had been “turned off.”
“We use the hydrant in Fort Mylner all the time for fires in the area,” he said late Monday afternoon. “But this time we connected two lines instead of one which caused the gravity-fed system to trip.” He said the Water and Power Authority was quickly on the scene to reset it, “But it still wasn’t enough pressure to feed both lines. The hydrant collapsed.”
Meanwhile, Dadlie’s Water and Trucking sent two 5,000-gallon trucks to the scene.
With all of the working fleet at the scene, it would have been much more challenging to contain the fire without the private hauler stepping up, George said.
The Monday morning fire likely started on the eastern side of the shopping center, which George called “a total loss.”
He said the fire had been fed by a slight wind. But more problematic is that the older wood structure had no firewalls.
George said, the roof, which was recently replaced, was also wood, which didn’t help.
As of 7 p.m., no smoke was coming out of the building, and all of the debris had been removed except for where the fire started.
“We needed to leave that area untouched until the fire inspector inspects it,” he said.
George said firefighters worked in shifts, while many of the business owners looked on and offered thanks and even food and drinks to the crews.
He commended WAPA, Public Works Department, V.I. Police Department and V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency for their support.
“We have a unified team,” he said, thanks to his work with VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen.
“All in all, not one citizen was injured,” George said. Two firefighters sustained minor injuries, a cut hand and he said, “Something fell on one person’s head, on his helmet.”
It will take time, he said, to determine the cause of the blaze that began in the early morning hours on Monday.