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Key factors hindered firefighters

BURLINGTON — Bad roads, lack of a fire hydrant and sightseers hampered firefighters’ efforts to reach the home of an 80-year-old man who died in a house fire on Haines Branch Monday evening.

Burlington Fire Chief Ryan Vaughn said the road leading to John T. Rickard’s house was narrow, making it difficult to get necessary equipment where it needed to be.

“When we were trying to leave we had two trucks that had to be pulled out because of the mud,” Vaughn said. “We had to bring a back hoe in to get the trucks out.”

The nearest fire hydrant was three miles away. Two fire departments that gave mutual aid brought water to the fire site.

Both Burlington-Fayette fire departments, along with Chesapeake, Proctorville and Rome fire departments were all called to fight the blaze.

Some firefighters were on the scene 11 hours, Vaughn said. SouthEast Ohio Emergency Medical Services and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office were also on the scene.

The house was a total loss. The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined.

Vaughn said another problem was the number of people who drove cars to Haines Branch. The cars blocked the roadway at times and hampered efforts to put out the fire.

“They came to see what was going on,” Vaughn said. “At one time we couldn’t get trucks to the fire because of all the vehicles parked in the middle of the road.”