Baltimore Fire Department investigating why two hydrants didn't work during Curtis Bay blaze

Baltimore fire officials are investigating why two fire hydrants didn't work Monday during a fast-moving blaze that damaged 10 rowhouses and forced about two dozen people from their homes in Curtis Bay.

"We're trying to figure out exactly what happened," Baltimore fire Chief Niles Ford said Wednesday.

Ford said the two hydrants that malfunctioned had been checked recently — one nine days before the fire; the other 44 days prior.

"Our people are trained to be able to navigate around these circumstances," said Ford, adding that firefighters quickly found other water sources to put out the flames. "They adjusted and they adjusted pretty rapidly to the situation."

More than 80 firefighters battled the blaze Monday afternoon that spread rapidly from rowhouse to rowhouse along the 1600 block of Hazel Street in the South Baltimore neighborhood.

Eight of the homes were occupied and two were vacant, firefighters said. The fire drove 23 residents from their homes. Two people were injured, including a firefighter.

Ford said fire hydrants are checked once every six months to make sure they're working. He said both of the malfunctioning hydrants were fixed by Baltimore's Department of Public Works during the incident.

"Yes, it sounds like a major deal, but it's something we do all of the time," he said of adjusting to a malfunctioning hydrant.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, he said.

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