Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tahoe Fire Calls

One does wonder how this type of mistake could happen.

Early fire calls dismissed
CHP dispatchers thought Angora fire was controlled burn, tapes show.
By John Hill - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, July 14, 2007

For as long as nine minutes, while the Angora fire near South Lake Tahoe gained deadly force, California Highway Patrol dispatchers told alarmed callers that they were seeing a controlled burn, not an out-of-control wildfire, according to audiotapes released by the CHP on Friday.

"I'm on the golf course ... and we can see smoke coming off the mountain to the west of us," said the first call received by the CHP's Truckee communications center at 2:02 p.m. on June 24.

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

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

Officials were reluctant Friday to say what effect, if any, the delay might have had on the destruction done by the fire, which over the next several days would claim 254 homes and 3,100 acres.

"Lord only knows what happened in those 10 minutes," said Bruce Turbeville, a 37-year veteran of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.