Fire trucks can’t fit down some Topsail Beach driveways; leaders discuss solutions

Fire trucks can’t fit down some Topsail Beach driveways; leaders discuss solutions
This driveway is too narrow and the trees hang down too low (Source: WECT)
This driveway is too narrow and the trees hang down too low (Source: WECT)

TOPSAIL BEACH, NC (WECT) - When a home is on fire, every minute counts.

"[The fire] can pretty much engulf the inside of a house in 15 minutes," Topsail Beach Volunteer Fire Chief Bobby Humphrey said. "I've seen that happen."

Chief Humphrey said there are about 30 driveways in Topsail Beach that the fire trucks cannot fit down. If one of those homes caught on fire, the lack of access could cause a serious delay.

"Some of the houses are 400 or 500 feet off of the main highway, and we can't get the truck back to the house," Chief Humphrey said. He said that's because the driveways are too overgrown, too narrow and the trees hang down too low, keeping the fire trucks out.

"If we are lucky we could use a neighbors' driveway and get the fire out that way," Chief Humphrey said.

If not, he said they would have to park the fire truck several hundred feet away on the street.

"We would have to use manpower and either drag or roll out hoses all the way from the highway to the house, 400 or 500 feet, something like that. It would take a lot of time, meanwhile the fire would spread in the house rapidly making the fire harder to fight,"  Humphrey said.

He estimates in that scenario it could take 15 or 20 extra minutes before crews could start attacking the blaze. 

Chief Humphrey said carrying tools off of the truck would also take time.

While the department tried sending letters to homeowners asking them to trim their driveways, he said only some of the homeowners made changes. About 30 driveways are still too overgrown.

Town leaders are discussing the issue and possible solutions during their October 8th meeting.

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