Mistake made handling Waldo Canyon fire 911 call

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says a dispatcher made a mistake when she failed to relay a 911 call about a wildfire hours before it roared out of control.

According to KKTV-TV, a man called on June 23 and said he saw a fire smoldering while he was hiking. The dispatcher said the Pueblo Forest Service was already aware of it and would be there shortly.

Fire crews already out searching for the fire were never told.

Four hours later, they were still struggling to find the fire when the flames erupted. It grew for three days, then reached Colorado Springs, destroying more than 300 homes and taking two lives.

Here is the transcribed call from KKTV:

Dispatcher: “On Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 7:50 a.m."
Dispatcher: "This is the El Paso County Dispatch.”
Caller: “I’m calling on the suspected Waldo fire; I was running the trail today and went up on one of the dog legs after I smelled a little bit of smoke. There's a spot about a couple hundred feet wide that's still smoldering a little bit.”
Dispatcher: “Right....Pueblo Forest Service checked on that last night they said that they would be sending up another unit first thing this morning to check on it, but they are aware of it and they will be up there shortly this morning. Okay?”
Caller: “Yeah. I just wanted to make sure.”
Dispatcher: “Sure. Thank you.”

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