John Daley ReportingDep. Chief Mike Veenendal, Sandy Fire Dept.: "It looks like perhaps our response time might have been a little longer than we'd like. But again, that's probably because they came in a different route."
On this day after a fatal fire that claimed the life of a well-known Sandy doctor, officials are dissecting the details, trying to figure out if fire crews could have gotten there any sooner.
What caused the blaze? Why did neighbors have a hard time reaching 9-1-1? And were firefighters delayed getting to the home?
It was a fast-moving, very hot-burning blaze and we may never know if there was anything anyone could have done to save Dr. Herbert Ungritch. But today a Sandy fire official suggested crews may have taken a wrong turn. And a top dispatch manager says a pair of initial callers had trouble getting through.
The fast-burning fire broke out a little before dawn in the family's garage where Ungritch was trapped while his wife tried to rescue him. Soon, neighbors said they heard explosions, possibly from fuel containers or paint being stored in the garage.
Valley Emergency Communications center reports getting the initial call from inside the home at 5:07 AM. A manager at the center today tells us it took 58 seconds from the initial call until Sandy crews at Fire Station #32 were alerted--under the sixty-second average dispatch time.
Two calls from a neighbor didn't go through and they hung up, but that was less that a minute before the call from inside the Ungritch home.
Gary Lancaster, Valley Emergency Communications: "I think we handled this, and the times on this, in an acceptable tolerance on the dispatch end."
Fire crews arrived at the home--roughly ten blocks away--at 5:16 AM, that's about nine minutes, including the dispatch time and time for crews to get dressed and in the truck. Major fire departments in the valley we contacted say the average response time for such calls is generally in the four to six minute range.
Sandy fire officials are still investigating, but today suggested crews may have taken a wrong turn.
Dep. Chief Mike Veenendaal, Sandy Fire Dept.: "From the time the first call was received until the first engine arrived was nine minutes. We do have that information. We probably would have liked to seen that a little quicker. I think they may have come in a different direction or whatever. But that was the response. We'll certainly follow up to make sure there wasn't any other problems with that."
Today we drove the same route in midday traffic and we able to get there in three to four minutes. We've asked for 9-1-1 tapes, but according to the Sandy Fire Department those are still being investigated. They expect to have more information on this case perhaps by the end of the week.