ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s a waste, it’s dangerous, and just flat-out dumb. Someone decided it would be a good idea to rampage through part of Albuquerque, opening up fire hydrants.
Firefighters say it’s not that easy to open up a fire hydrant, but someone was going around in the middle of the night doing just that.
They’re there to save homes and lives.
“When we do respond to fires, we depend on those working hydrants,” explained Melissa Romero, with the Albuquerque Fire Department.
But an engine with the AFD was busy around 1:00 a.m. Wednesday chasing down at least 15 gushing fire hydrants that someone opened up.
“It’s just very concerning that there was a lot of water that was wasted and also having to send manpower out to shut these hydrants off,” said Romero.
The damage was done in the far northeast heights near Alameda and Wyoming. David Morris with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority said it’s unclear exactly how much water was lost, but gushing hydrants can spill thousands of gallons per minute.
“I just noticed when I got up in the middle of the night the water pressure was very low, and I thought something was wrong with our pipes, I didn’t realize it was the whole neighborhood,” said Rob Pierce, who lives nearby.
Some neighbors thought the flooded street was from rain. Romero explained not only is opening fire hydrants wasteful, it’s dangerous.
Damage to hydrants can hinder fire fighting, or lead to other issues. “(Damaged hydrants) can also cause problems downstream with pressure changes that can cause line breaks,” said Morris.
The Fire Department was able to shut off all the leaks.
A witness described a white or light-colored sedan near the area, but police were not able to find the culprits. Neighbors said that’s frustrating.
“I think it’s very aggravating, we live in the desert and we are in such a drought and for somebody to go around just wasting for vandalism sake is kind of infuriating,” said Pierce.
Since the suspect vehicle description didn’t include a license plate, APD said it could be difficult to catch the vandals unless a witness comes forward.
The city has almost 16,000 fire hydrants. According to the Water Utility Authority’s website, tampering with one carries a fine of up to $500 and/or 90 days in jail.