Response time delayed in Windsor Green condo fire due to confusion over jurisdiction
Fri, 22 Mar 2013 18:08:12 GMT —
The first 911 call about the Windsor Green condo fire Saturday, actually came in 3 1/2 minutes earlier than previously reported, at 5:08:38.
A call taker in the Horry County dispatch center mistakenly transferred the call to Myrtle Beach dispatch, thinking the address was in the city's jurisdiction, according to Horry County Public Information Officer Lisa Bourcier.
On the recording, the caller says, "Hi, there's a fire in the back of our condos that's pretty big, it's on 4931 Crab Pond Court, by the electrical grid back there," and the call taker asked the caller to hold on for a second while he checked to make sure there wasn't a call already put in.
The call taker proceeded to search for the address in the system, stating he thought there were a couple of Crab Pond Court street addresses in Horry County.
The caller describes the fire as being close to the condos and says at that time the fire was about 200 ft from the condos at Windsor Green.
The call taker continues to search for the address and then tells the caller he is transferring him to Myrtle Beach dispatch.
The next call comes in at 5:11:57.
Caller 2: "Yeah, I just now got on to my front porch, I live in Carolina Forest and there is a flaming fire, I mean it's big."
In the 3 minutes plus that have transpired since the first call, the fire has apparently grown and spread.
County dispatcher: "How big is the fire?"
Caller 2: "Um, from here, I'm probably looking at 10 foot flames."
That call came from an apartment on Wando River Road, which the dispatcher correctly identifies as being in Horry County. That dispatcher is a different person than the first county call taker.
By 5:13:14, nearly five minutes after the first call came in, the first caller has been transferred back to county dispatch and is expressing frustration.
Caller 1: "This is the third 911 call that I've been transferred to. On Crab Pond Court, there's a huge fire."
The county reports that the first unit, Engine 39, arrives on the scene at 5:16:47, more than 8 minutes after the first call came in.
Within a minute, four more fire units arrive on the scene, according to the county's timeline.
By that time, many more calls had come in, with callers reporting heavy smoke, high flames and panic.
Caller: "Like there is two complexes right next to each other that, one is literally on fire and people are screaming, help me, help me!"
The county's spokesperson points out that the first person to take a call was a "call taker", not a dispatcher and there is a difference.
No one was killed in the fire, but we wanted to know, did that nearly 3-and-a-half minute lag cost some of these condos?
We talked to Leslie Yancey, Horry County fire's spokesperson. She said to speculate on that would be impossible.
The massive fire at the Windsor Green condo complex burned 26 buildings. 109 housing units are considered a total loss. 189 people lost everything when their homes burned to the ground.
Horry County provided the 911 clips and we edited them together to make it easier to listen to all calls made the night of the fire.