'Something has been overlooked': John Grum calls for investigation into William Street's water supply following fire

CINDER: JG Auto Sales owner John Grum stands in his car yard which was destroyed by fire. Photo: DAVID FITZSIMONS

CINDER: JG Auto Sales owner John Grum stands in his car yard which was destroyed by fire. Photo: DAVID FITZSIMONS

A week after his car yard went up in smoke, John Grum still has unanswered questions about the water supply in William Street.

Mr Grum watched helplessly as a grass fire claimed 40 of his cars.

He believes firefighters couldn’t access adequate water supplies at the site and this hampered efforts to extinguish the blaze.

He said the water main was dry, forcing firefighters to bring in water tankers.

“I think there’s more to it. Someone other than [Orange City] Council needs to investigate,” Mr Grum said.

“Somewhere along the lines, someone hasn’t done the right thing. Something has been overlooked.”

Mr Grum said the delay in getting water had cause significant damage.

“It took 25 minutes to get water and the fire went from two cars to about 40 to 50,” he said.

“Then when they finally had water, the fire had melted a power pole and Transgrid managed to turn the power off. By the time it was right to use, the fire was well out of control.”

On Wednesday, council admitted there was not enough water in the main to extinguish the fire.

“Orange City Council has put its hand up and admitted making a mistake, and we’ll wear the public criticism,” spokesman Nick Redmond said.

A valve underneath the Dalton and McLachlan streets roundabout was closed due to a substantial leak.

“There was enough water before the fire for the businesses in William Street for normal daily use, but not enough for firefighters to use,” Mr Redmond said.

Water mains are expected to deliver 20 litres per second, and with one valve under a roundabout turned off, the main on William Street delivered 7.6 litres per second.

“In any case, whether there was no water or not enough water is irrelevant when it comes to not being able to put out a fire,” Mr Redmond said.

“Because valves were turned off in error, Orange City Council has admitted there was not enough water in the pipes. “

Council will review protocols for opening and closing valves and staff have started a city-wide audit of valves and hydrants.

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