Home Destroyed By Fire After Dispatching Mistake

Tuesday, March 3rd 2009, 10:15 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

ROGERS COUNTY -- A family's home is destroyed by fire, and they say an error by emergency dispatch services is to blame.  Officials say Rogers County firefighters were given the wrong address, and when they finally showed up, the house was a total loss.

"It's overwhelming.  I don't have the words to express what it feels like to lose everything," said Teresa Parker.

Smoldering ruins are all that are left of David and Teresa Parker's home of 16 years.  On Monday night, the couple called 911 after spotting a chimney fire on their roof.  The Parkers say they were able to contain it for a while patiently waiting for firefighters to arrive.

"The fire department didn't show up and didn't show up, so we started calling again.  The neighbors started calling.  They still didn't show up," said Teresa Parker.

By the time Northwest Rogers County Fire Department did get there about 45 minutes after the initial call, the house was fully engulfed.  Officials say dispatchers messed up the Parker's address by a single digit, and sent firefighters more than 20 miles from the actual scene.

"It's a miracle this doesn't happen every day," said John Wylie with the Oologah Lake Leader.

John Wylie took pictures of the fire.  A long-time editor of the Oologah Lake Leader, he says the lack of a centralized dispatch service has plagued the area for decades.  For example, he says the fire department is dispatched by an ambulance service in Owasso.

"We are 10 to 15 years behind most other parts of the world with our dispatching technology and procedures," said John Wylie.

The Parkers plan to rebuild, but the family says it will be difficult to accept losing their home like they did.

"I would hope this would not happen to anyone else.  It could have been prevented.  The most frustrating part is that it could have been prevented," said Teresa Parker.

The family says firefighters did all they could to save the house.

Northwest Fire says it covers a very large area in Rogers County, and if it is given incorrect information from dispatch, tragedies can happen.