Lake Havasu City firefighters faced difficulties Saturday afternoon with a blaze reported in the Horizon Six Development District, as longstanding water system issues made a hard job even harder.
The fire began in a motorhome on the 4000 block of Window Rock Road. By the time fire officials arrived at the scene, the motorhome was fully engulfed. According to Lake Havasu City Fire Chief Pete Pilafas, fire officials were forced to transport their own water to the scene of the fire, as hydrants in the area were out of service.
“Obviously it poses an issue when we don’t have an adequate resource,” Pilafas said. “We pre-planned for it because the water system was not reliable. We’ve made sure we have a strategy in place.”
According to Pilafas, improvements to the water system would go far to mitigate the risk to residents in the Horizon Six Development District, but also for firefighters themselves.
The fire was subdued within 45 minutes, and no injuries were reported. While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, however, continued fire risk remains in the district.
Last July, the city ended a 10-year fire protection agreement with Mohave County due to the Horizon Development District’s ongoing water system woes. The 320-acre residential development area’s current water system has received few upgrades since its 30 years of operation, and according to statements last year by Lake Havasu City officials, the area’s water system has fallen behind standards required by modern firefighting agencies.
Lake Havasu City Manager Jess Knudson said last year that the county will have to improve Horizon Six’s water infrastructure and identify a funding mechanism for reimbursing Havasu for the costs of providing fire protection services to Horizon Six.
Those improvements seemed forthcoming earlier this year, until the residents of Horizon Six canceled a project to replace the system’s pump valves in May. The project was canceled for lack of funding, according to county records, and the district instead paid $19,000 to improve the district’s electrical system.
“Right now they’re looking at getting a bond to improve the system and the problems they’re having with water pressure,” said Mohave County Supervisor and Horizon Six resident Buster Johnson.
“Upgrades have taken place and repairs need to be done, but it’s a private system … the only funds that can be expended for it are funds from the district. When it was built, it wasn’t made to handle modern fire hydrants.”
Until such repairs are made, Lake Havasu City will bill Horizon Six residents directly for any fire service provided.