HESPERIA — Firefighters were unable to douse an early morning blaze in time because copper fittings worth a mere $8 had been stolen from all five fire hydrants on the block.
As a result, Jerry Malberg lost his mother’s house near Rock Springs Road.
Hesperia Councilwoman Rita Vogler said authorities will look for those responsible at metal recycling spots and encouraged residents to report fire hydrants with missing tops to the fire department.
“This is a trend that has to do with the rising prices of metals and it’s bigger than San Bernardino County, which is why we need to be on the look out,” she said.
The house was empty at the time, but Malberg’s neighbors, Tony and Kim Gallegos, thought otherwise.
Tony Gallegos attempted to put out the fire with a garden hose while waiting for firefighters to arrive. Other neighbors were honking horns trying to wake up the occupants, said Gallegos.
“We watch out for our neighbors’ property all the time,” said Kim Gallegos. “We never thought we’d have to watch out for the hydrants.”