Disturbing information is emerging from the ashes of the Angora Fire that destroyed hundreds of homes at South Lake Tahoe.
Evidence released reveals that 9-1-1 dispatchers dismissed the first few calls from panicked homeowners, assuming the smoke they were seeing was from a controlled burn. Did their actions delay the firefighter's response? Well, they will say every minute counts in initial response. Getting personnel and equipment to a fire quickly can be the difference between a small burn and a big destructive fire.
By any measure, the Angora Fire was that big destructive blaze. It was the fire Tahoe residents had feared for decades. Before it was over, 3,100 acres had burned, 254 homes were lost, and more than $12 million was spent fighting it.
But as it was beginning, alert visitors were calling 9-1-1 reporting a wisp of smoke.
The California Highway Patrol released copies of those intial calls Friday, and they raise questions about what happened in those first few minutes of the Angora Fire. Those calls were recorded on Sunday, June 24th at two minutes past two in the afternoon.
Many calls came into the dispatch center, and you can hear the dispatchers telling the callers that the smoke they were seeing, was from a controlled burn.
The two Truckee dispatchers who took the several calls have since been reassigned, and whatever their answers, this is not a rookie mistake. One is a veteran dispatcher with 27 years experience, and the other has 17 years experience.
Ed Pearce, KOLO 8 News Now