Monday, May 09, 2005

Things You May Not Have Thought About

So much more is taken for granted if you don't live on an island. You may have read about the misfortune of Friday's fire in the village, but you may not have thought about the difficulties and hazards of fighting a house fire on Ocracoke Island.

High winds often contribute to firefighting problems, especially when homes are built close together as in Ocracoke village. But those problems were exacerbated Friday because of the hurricane force winds.

The storm was raging relentlessly and ferry operations were suspended. This meant that no backup was available from Hatteras Island (a time-consuming option under the best of conditions). Nor was help forthcoming from aircraft. Our small local fire department was completely on its own in a very stressful and difficult situation.

I am told that water pressure became an issue at some point and that water plant personnel made every effort to provide adequate pressure for the firefighters.

In the end our fire department, along with a number of community volunteers, was successful in containing and extinguishing a very threatening fire. Unfortunately the Joy Bell house is likely a total loss. The good news is that no one was injured, and the fire never spread to neighboring homes or vegetation.

If you have the opportunity, please thank our fire chief, Albert O'Neal, and his crew for a job well done. You might even want to send a donation to the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department, Ocracoke, NC 27960. They can always use additional funds.

Also, be sure to be exceptionally careful with fires on the island. We want to protect our trees, our historic village, and the lives of residents and visitors alike.

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