House fire on the river raises questions about fire boats

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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, August 15, 2013

North Augusta, SC (WRDW) - A News 12 viewer shot video on the Savannah River of the house on Savannah Court, going up in flames

They had a front row seat watching a fire destroy the riverfront home.

So why not fight the fire from the river?

"We're always looking for resources to help the city," said Lt. Tim Thorton of North Augusta Public Safety.

He says a fire boat isn't one of them. It may an important firefighting tool. Especially with with multi-million dollar homes, businesses and maybe even a baseball stadium and hotel complex all on the river.

"They're usually used for defensive attacks basically to surround and drown the structure," he told News 12's Patrick Price.

Lt. Thorton says that's exactly what fire trucks did on the scene of Wednesdays fire, after they determined it was a total loss.

"Two different fire trucks dumping as much water on the scene as possible, a fire boat wouldn't have done anything different," he said.

Close to 100 homes sit on the river between I-20 and 520.

"All these houses are accessible by paved roads and easy to get to with our fire trucks," Lt Thorton said.

But some homeowners who live on the river are asking, what's wrong with more protection for their biggest investment?

"You have to supply it with man power, you'll have to have a place to put the boat," he said.

And he says, one of those boats could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. A steep price for a little more protection.

"There's always going to be a discussion of what else can we provide to the citizens of the city," Thorton said.