Cause under investigation after fire hydrant fails in Cottonwood Heights

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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah - Salt Lake City utilities is investigating after a fire hydrant malfunctioned early Wednesday morning.

Fire crews in Cottonwood Heights turned on the hydrant to fight a house fire near 7700 South and 3500 East, but water sprayed out the bottom rather than going through the hose.

"It looked like Niagara Falls,” neighbor Norbert Kula said. “The water that they should have been putting on the house was going down the road.”

Unified Fire Authority Captain Dustin Dern said crews quickly switched to another hydrant about 300 feet down the street, and he said the switch likely didn’t affect the fire fighting.

“We train for that,” Dern said. “We do annual hydrant inspections and make sure things are working, but sometimes hydrants just have problems like anything else.”

The Salt Lake City Utilities Department maintains about 10,000 hydrants throughout the city proper and the county. Utilities Director Laura Briefer said the hydrant in question was inspected and repaired in July 2015. Crews are trying to identify why the hydrant didn’t work properly.

“Any number of things could have happened,” Briefer said. “Occasionally a fire hydrant will get hit by a car, if it’s not reported to us, we may not know it until we’re doing our next inspection.”

The hydrant is out of service until it’s completely repaired and tested.