Tijuana firefighters made a troubling discovery on Wednesday, May 14, as they battled Santa Ana-whipped flames in the eastern neighborhoods of the city: most of the fire hydrants in the area were useless.
In an interview with the daily newspaper El Sol de Tijuana, fire chief Carlos Gopar Uribe said functioning fire hydrants in the city’s eastern sector were already sparse, but thieves have left large sections with no protection at all.
Gopar said fire hydrants are made from valuable materials, particularly bronze, which thieves sell at salvage yards.
The fire chief made his remarks to the newspaper on an unusually busy day, as Santa Ana winds and high temperatures greatly increased the risk of fire. He said firefighters had responded to 125 calls for service on Wednesday and were bracing for even worse conditions today.
The bronze thieves, said Gopar, were making a dangerous situation even more risky for Tijuana residents.
At least ten homes were destroyed by fire on May 14, and flames also erupted at clandestine dumps and in open fields, Gopar said. Smoke caused multiple traffic accidents, while the winds felled trees and caused power outages. At the time of the interview, no lives had been lost and no serious injuries had been reported, he said.