This past evening two homes inside Pelican Cove on Bay Street were destroyed by fire. The fire’s cause remains under investigation, and an update will be shared once that information becomes available. Recent dry weather and wind were a definite factor.
Several have reported being alarmed from seeing this post by a resident/council member.
Unfortunately, Mr. Knight is speaking from an uninformed position and not permitting dialogue to playout within the post by deleting comments that do not support his position. Mr. Knight, along with the rest of the City council and many within our community have direct access to City leadership anytime there is a concern or need for factual information.
As the public safety director, it is my responsibility to ensure the public safety mission and emergency crews’ response meet the highest level of service within our means and based on those resources available to us. Additionally, when erroneous information is shared or truthful/procedural information is otherwise hindered, the City must get behind the narrative and respond with facts. Also, those facts must be available for scrutiny to you, the public served. The following information will highlight the fire event, our initial assessment of the response, and speak to commentary that has been shared but removed in Mr. Knight’s post.
This past evening, 03/13/2021, the City FD was sent out for a minor crash resulting in injury. That call sheet is attached below for public inspection. (Certain redactions are required by law or for privacy reasons.) The FD managed that event from 7:03 pm until 7:38 pm when they were reassigned to the fire call in the 800 Blk. of Bay Street. (See attached fire run call sheet.)
The FD responded directly from the crash scene at N. Avenue A and Wheeler to the fire scene. At that time, they were inside Engine 1. This engine has a water-carrying capacity four times that of the City ladder truck and was most suited for the first attack on the reported “patio fire.”
Additionally, emergency communications called in neighboring communities to supply additional assets under our cooperative mutual aid agreements. This is standard protocol utilized depending on the nature of the fire call. One must remember, we do not have resources like the City of Corpus Christi, namely multiple local fire companies capable of responding to large-scale fires. Instead, smaller communities like ours rely on mutual aid contracts/agreements. And, as demonstrated this past evening, those agreements work.
During both the online and limited in-person dialogue that has taken place, some questions or concerns have been raised.
- Other town’s used their ladder trucks, but APFD’s was parked at the station. Why? Our engine, E-1, was already out on a call when this “patio fire” was dispatched. The fire captain on duty determined the best plan of attack was to address the fire with E-1 considering it was with them at the time and likewise had a greater water-carrying capacity. In firefighting, the fire crew’s first attack against the fire is paramount, while supporting units establish continuous water flow for all crews to depend on. Additionally, there were overhead powerlines that prohibit the immediate use of the FD ladder. Those lines must first be shut off before the ladder can elevate safely.
- Why aren’t the fire hydrants working on Bay Street? The hydrants are operational and were used during this fire. The fire crew experienced a water flow issue that the on-call water department staff quickly addressed. Additionally, this stretch of the water line is at the end of a line. It does not loop around, and that too can hinder flow. FD crews appreciate the help of one resident who helped them secure a water connection to the hydrant. That particular hydrant is under a work order because the 5″ cap was stuck upon FD’s last inspection of the hydrant this past January. This resident and fire crews were able to overcome that stuck cap during this event.
- Why does it take so long for the FD to respond? As one can see in the report, the FD crew took approximately 10 minutes to arrive on the scene from when they went en route to the time they went on location. The fire crew had to first suit up at the crash scene before responding. Next, they responded using their emergency lights and siren, but remember, their apparatus isn’t like an officer responding in a police car. The time it took them to suit up and arrive on location does not appear unreasonable.
This morning, I surveyed the fire scene and spoke with residents in the area. Several were surprised that the fire did not spread to other residences in the neighborhood. Wind gusts during this time by one account from a nearby weather station reported gusts upwards of 25 MPH. Additionally, one resident reported his pool was saturated with embers that were windblown into his part of the neighborhood, which was a decent distance away from the fire scene.
Our hearts and thoughts go out to the residents directly affected by this fire. Additionally, the FD fire investigation and fire watch continue, as FD staff has already had to tap down some flare-ups.
We express our sincere appreciation to our neighboring agencies that sent much-needed resources our way. Your efforts and participation helped us keep this fire from spreading and creating more devastation. Thank you!
As more information becomes available, we will share it with you directly here.
Should you require information or clarification, please feel free to message us directly. We are happy to provide you with whatever information we have as long as we are not otherwise restricted by law. This level of accountability and transparency in Aransas Pass has remained at least the past eight or more years of my administration. (https://police.aptx.gov/contact-us/)
Chief Eric Blanchard
Public Safety Director for Aransas Pass
As with all rapidly evolving events, the information shared is subject to change or correction. When new information becomes available or a correction/update is needed, those updates will append to this original release.