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    Lightbulb Delayed Response

    California - Authorities delayed responding to a wildfire that destroyed 254 homes last month because two emergency dispatchers initially dismissed 911 calls reporting the Lake Tahoe blaze, transcripts released Friday show. The dispatchers have been reassigned while the California Highway Patrol investigates, authorities said. Their dismissals caused a seven-to-nine minute delay in the intial response to the blaze, the transcripts show.
    On a tape of five calls answered by the CHP Truckee field office, dispatchers tell callers the smoke they are seeing is from a controlled burn - a purposely set fire which is often used to clear forests. The smoke actually came from a fire that ultimately destroyed 254 homes and burned 3,100 acres of mountain wilderness.

    "I'm on the golf course, it's - uh - Lake Tahoe Country Club, and we can see smoke coming off the mountain to the west of us," a man reports, according to a transcript of the first call received by the CHP's Truckee communications center at 2:02 p.m. on June 24.

    "Yeah. Yeah, they're doing a - a control burn there," the dispatcher responds.

    "Thank you," the unidentified male caller responds. "Sorry to bother you."

    Capt. Gary Ross, commander of the CHP field office in Truckee, said their dismissals caused a delayed response to the fire, started June 24 by an illegal campfire. It took firefighters eight days to contain the blaze, at a cost of $12.1 million.

    The dispatchers also did not follow CHP policy, in which they are instructed to keep callers on the line and transfer them to a local fire department in such situations. Instead, they let the callers hang up.

    The dispatchers told at least five callers that the smoke was from a controlled burn - a purposely set fire which is often used to clear forests.

    The U.S. Forest Service did not immediately respond to a message late Friday from The Associated Press, but The Sacramento Bee reported there were no controlled burns in the area on the day the wildfire started.

    As additional calls came in to dispatchers on the afternoon the fire began, they became less sure about the existence of a controlled burn.

    A spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the governor was concerned.

    "We take this matter very seriously," said spokeswoman Sabrina Lockhart. "We are awaiting the outcome of the CHP investigation."

    Homeowner Tony Colombo, 52, who lost his home in the fire, said he didn't want to "play the blame game" but added, "I find it disgusting, because we knew this basin was a tinderbox."

    "There were people who dropped the ball in the jobs," he added.

    The CHP said it will not release the names of the dispatchers. One is a 27-year CHP veteran and the other has been a dispatcher for 17 years, Ross said.

    Written by Associated Press

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    How does one "whistle" on the internet?
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    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7 View Post
    How does one "whistle" on the internet?
    How about how long it will take the first law suit to be filed.

    T.J.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Remthedays View Post
    How about how long it will take the first law suit to be filed.

    T.J.

    A lot faster than it will take me to figure out how to whistle over the internet, I'll bet.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

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    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7 View Post
    A lot faster than it will take me to figure out how to whistle over the internet, I'll bet.
    Easy: Whistle
    So you call this your free country
    Tell me why it costs so much to live
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldfront View Post
    Their dismissals caused a seven-to-nine minute delay in the intial response to the blaze, the transcripts show.

    "I'm on the golf course, it's - uh - Lake Tahoe Country Club, and we can see smoke coming off the mountain to the west of us," a
    I know a 7-9 minute delay on a structure fire could make the difference between catching the fire small or not, bus is that true in this case? The caller can already see smoke at what I have to assume is a considerable distance. If the fire is already that big, would a 7-9 minute delay make a difference in being able to save any of those houses that were destroyed much later in the incident?

    My real question is how did the dispatchers get the incorrect information that there was a controlled burn in that area? That seems to be where the problem lies. If they didn't think there was a controlled burn the dispatch would not have been delayed.
    So you call this your free country
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    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    I know a 7-9 minute delay on a structure fire could make the difference between catching the fire small or not, bus is that true in this case? The caller can already see smoke at what I have to assume is a considerable distance. If the fire is already that big, would a 7-9 minute delay make a difference in being able to save any of those houses that were destroyed much later in the incident?

    My real question is how did the dispatchers get the incorrect information that there was a controlled burn in that area? That seems to be where the problem lies. If they didn't think there was a controlled burn the dispatch would not have been delayed.
    1st question - the 7-9 minute delay certainly didn't help.

    2nd question - I would bet that the dispatcher did not recieve incorrect information. I heard the tapes of this incident - the dispatcher sounded very much put out that he was receiving multiple calls reporting smoke. My guess is that he merely guessed that there was a control burn or was too damn lazy to call and check and simply did nothing except get people off of the phone. His bad day turned into a major wild fire that burned over 250 homes - hope he feels better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    1st question - the 7-9 minute delay certainly didn't help.

    2nd question - I would bet that the dispatcher did not recieve incorrect information. I heard the tapes of this incident - the dispatcher sounded very much put out that he was receiving multiple calls reporting smoke. My guess is that he merely guessed that there was a control burn or was too damn lazy to call and check and simply did nothing except get people off of the phone. His bad day turned into a major wild fire that burned over 250 homes - hope he feels better.
    1st question-it probably hurt a lot more than it helped.

    2nd question-Bingo!

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    Particularly during the summer of 2003 (the Really Big Burns in central BC) the Malahat region received many smoke sighting calls because around the same time a lot of logging was going on, and so there were controlled "machine burns" up on the ridgeline.

    In every case, Dispatch would tell the caller that it was a controlled burn, but at the same time one of the three area stations, Langford, Malahat or Shawnigan Lake, (and sometimes Sooke, depending on where exactly) would get dispatched to investigate. Sure it was tedious and time consuming sometimes, but at least it was checked out.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

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