The icy weather has kept city safety crew members working extra shifts. News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports the big problem is power lines are still down, which means electricity is out and streets are closed. Detectives have been pulled off their normal duties to guard power lines in streets and re-route traffic. Firefighters got so many calls about power lines, they eventually stopped going to all but the ones where smoke was visible and, 911 has been swamped.
Firefighters responded to 50 fires in the past 24 hours. They were also busy with medical calls and transformers blowing. By far, the majority of their calls were power lines crashing down. They finally had to respond to only those where fire was imminent.
"We want residents to check their smoke detectors, be vigilant in watching, listening, smelling for any anomalies in their home," said Tulsa Fire Department Captain Larry Bowles.
Police officers worked overtime, to steer drivers around power lines that were down in streets and sidewalks. Crews warned homeowners not to remove tree limbs, because you may not be able to tell a line is underneath. Police don't have the staff to respond to non-injury accidents, so those folks need to exchange information, fill out a police report and mail it in. Police and county deputies ask drivers to treat intersections with no lights, as four-way stop and take turns going.
"If you're out driving, give everybody a lot of room, it takes a lot longer to stop a car. We have police guarding downed lines, firefighters out working, give everybody a lot of room," said TCS Chief Deputy Brian Edwards.
Police dispatchers, EMSA and fire are extremely busy. They had nearly ten times the number of calls that generally come in during one day. That pushed the average wait time to answer a 911 call to about three minutes.
"What I would tell people, if you're calling 911 and it rings, stay on the line. If you hang up and call back, you'll go to the bottom of the call list. We'll get to you as fast as we can," said 911 dispatcher, Dale Hunter.
Because of the ground temperatures, the roads themselves aren't icy, which is one bright spot in all of this. One person did die in a traffic accident, but that was caused by hitting a low hanging power line. So, as things get dark, keep in mind, many power lines are still down and not all of them have been marked by cones or barricades.