Error Caused Delayed Response to Texas Fire


A fire department mix-up delayed the arrival of firefighters at an early morning house fire on San Antonio's southeast side Monday, according to a fire department spokeswoman.

Melissa Sparks said dispatchers received the first 911 call about the fire shortly before 5 a.m.

However, she said a computer system that displays the addresses where calls are originating simply showed it was in the 100 block of Day. She said it did not distinguish whether that meant Day Road or Day Street.

As a result, firefighters were dispatched to the 100 block of Day Street, which turned out to be the wrong address, Sparks said.

When they arrived at the correct address across town on Day Road, it was 19 minutes after the first 911 call, Sparks said.

By then, the home had sustained extensive damage. Neighbor Marcelina Galvan believes it could have been avoided.

"I'm calling on my cell phone to tell them the house is burning. And the lady's arguing with me, 'We got somebody at the scene. We got somebody at the scene," Galvan said. "I told her, 'I'm watching my neighbor's house burn down.'"

Galvan said she tried repeatedly to alert dispatchers to the correct location but they would not listen to her.

Hours later, Roy and Ruby Godley stood outside the shell of their home, counting up their losses and reflecting on what they had been through.

"I heard a loud pop, just like a transmitter went off, " said Roy Godley. "Right at that front door, there were flames."

Godley said he and his wife fled without taking anything with them.

However, even with all they lost, they said they're grateful they still have their lives.

"God is the one. He woke us up and got us out of this house. And whatever it'll be, it'll be," said Ruby Godley.

Fire investigators determined the fire was accidental, most likely started by an electrical problem.

A spokeswoman for the San Antonio Fire Department released a statement Monday afternoon that reads, in full:

"The San Antonio Fire Department is looking into the response to a structure fire in the 100 block of Day Road. Any delay in responding is regrettable and we will continue to review the details of the incident to determine how we can improve our service to the City of San Antonio and its residents."

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