Mt. Olive couple loses home, dogs in devastating fire

Local News

MT. OLIVE, Ala. (WIAT) — A family in Mt. Olive lost everything to a house fire on Friday, March 5.

It was Dwayne Rickard’s birthday, when he got a call from a neighbor that his home was in flames.

The home is a total loss, as well as the couple’s camper that was parked just behind the house. The home, just off of Tommy Town Road had been in the Rickard’s family for decades.

“Everything,” said Dwayne Rickard. “Everything we own is lost.”

He and his wife, Tara had just finished up $147,000 worth of home renovations two days prior to the fire.

“We had just tiled and made a brand-new shower and did all of that,” he said.

While the house is replaceable, Velma and Betsy are not; their two dogs that died in the fire.

“I’ve been here at home since the coronavirus started,” said Tara Rickard. “They were my constant companions. So, knowing there were here alone and scared during all that really breaks my heart.”

The Rickards believe there could have been a better outcome in the fire department’s response, if a fire hydrant were located closer to their home.

“It’s just horrible that the fire hydrant is so far away,” said Dwayne Rickard.

The Mount Olive Fire Chief, Chris Gamble said the fire hydrant’s location did not impair their response.

“Everything went smoothly, we train for these exact scenarios,” said Gamble. “Nothing was out of the ordinary and personnel operated exactly as they have been trained to do. All equipment functioned properly and all needed equipment was present on scene. We had a four minute response time and adequate water supply (over 1000 gallons a minute). Hydrants are tested and maintained bi-annually and operated properly for this event. The hydrant was close enough. We carry an adequate amount of supply line to cover the distance from hydrant to house.”

The Birmingham Water Works Board said if you would like to see more hydrants in your neighborhood, reach out to city and county officials.

“If a fire hydrant isn’t present, its either the decision of that city, or it has to be in regulation to what we’re able to do,” said Rick Jackson with BWWB. “We can’t place a hydrant on a two-inch main.”

The Rickards said they have been trying for months to get BWWB to extend their water main to their house, which could allow for a closer hydrant, but were told it’d cost them thousands.

“There was no willingness from them to just take responsibility to do it,” said Tara Rickard.

The Rickards have full coverage home insurance and plan to rebuild on the same property once claims are approved. They hope to see additional hydrants installed closer to home.

For a link to their GoFundMe, click here.

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