Fire victim upset with power company’s response time

The Holloway family lost everything in a Friday morning house fire. Pictured on the right: Stephanie Holloway with children Houston and Hunter.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Two different house fires since Friday have knocked down nearby power lines, which requires the utility company to respond.  Stephanie Holloway thinks if Indiana Michigan Power had responded more quickly to her home in rural Steuben County, she would still have a vehicle.

I&M spokesman Tracy Warner said it took an on-call crew about an hour to get to Holloway’s house in the middle of the night.  Holloway, her husband, and their two sons escaped the fire.  But it killed their three dogs.

The fire also knocked a power line onto their SUV, which caught fire and burned.  Firefighters couldn’t extinguish it because of the live wire.

“We’re just waiting and then the fire gets bigger and the fire’s getting bigger and it’s spreading all the way over the vehicle, tires are blowing, the gas tank is exploding,” Holloway said.  “If we wouldn’t have waited so long for them, we could have saved our vehicle.”

Warner said fire crews have ways to shut off power lines in extreme situations.

“If it’s an emergency, fire departments throughout our area, the firefighters have been trained to cut off power at a home,” Warner said.

TR Hagerty with the Angola Fire Department said crews couldn’t cut power off at the time.  The department only cuts power directly at the meter, which was inside the burning home on Friday.

Warner said it also took a crew about an hour to respond to Sunday morning’s house fire on Kitch Street in Fort Wayne.  A power line electrified a chain link fence at that scene.

Ron Privett with the Fort Wayne Fire Department said I&M’s response time did not affect their efforts.

“We understand, we sometimes get frustrated,” Privett, the assistant chief of operations said.  “I mean we’re there in a couple minutes because of the nature of our response.  They always can’t do that.  But we are going to secure that scene someway.”

Downed power lines are extremely dangerous.  Officials say if you see one, stay away and call 911.

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