Destructive Franklin Twp. fires underscore water supply issues in the area

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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A huge fire destroyed two houses and damaged two more in the 6900 block of Torrington Drive in Franklin Township, according to Franklin Twp. Fire Chief Michael Hannigan.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

State Fire Marshal investigators are continuing to investigate the cause of a fire in western Franklin Twp. that destroyed two houses and damaged two others.

Franklin Twp. Fire Chief Michael Hannigan said Thursday morning that no cause has been identified in the fires in the 6900 block of Torrington Drive in the Castlebrook Estates subdivision Sunday night. No damage estimate has been determined, but Hannigan thinks that it will exceed more than $500,000.

Hannigan said when firefighters arrived, they found heavy smoke in the back of one house, which quickly spread to the house next door. Two other houses sustained heat damage to the siding. He said several vehicles were damaged and four adults and a child were displaced.

ExploreMORE: ‘Off to the races it went’: Large Franklin Twp. fire started in one home, spread quickly

No injuries to residents or firefighters were reported, he 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.

Hannigan said fire trucks first arrived with about 1,000 gallons of water, but once that it was expended, crews have to wait for more to arrive. He said that by the end of the incident, 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 30 minutes to set up, he said.

ExploreMORE: 2 houses destroyed, 2 damaged at Franklin Twp. fire

During the fire, Franklin Twp. called for mutual 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.

Chris Brausch, Warren County Water and Sewer Department director, said he met with Franklin Twp. officials Wednesday night and discussed an option of putting in an emergency raw water line from its nearby water treatment plant to Franklin-Trenton Road to the road and install a truck valve where firefighters can access water quicker from their tankers. The county water treatment plant, located off Franklin-Trenton Road, is about a mile from where the fire occurred.

However, he said the township will have to determine how this will be funded.

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“It’s not a silver bullet but it’s a start,” Brausch said. “Every little bit helps.”

He said the trustees expressed interest in possibly locating a couple other similar lines and valves to other areas without hydrants.

Brausch said there were 1,300 county sewer customers with private wells in Franklin Twp. An estimated 70 percent of the homes in the village of Carlisle are also on private wells.

Township Administrator Traci Stivers met with Warren County zoning officials Thursday to discuss more enforcement of zoning regulations to address setbacks and space between houses to prevent future fires spreading from house to house due to close proximity.

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