Atlanta 9-1-1 Callers Put On Hold; House Burns
As Wilford Reed tried to keep his house from going up in flames, his Grant park neighbors kept their eyes on the clock, alleging it took Atlanta firefighters roughly 30 minutes to arrive at the scene.
I just think that the system is broken. Everyone was on hold with 911. Everyone in the street was on their cell phones. They just had a recording. You couldn’t talk to a real person, said nearby resident Sara Riney.
The fire started at about 11 p.m. Saturday in the 300 block of Atlanta Avenue in southeast Atlanta.
I was yelling to my wife, ‘Call 911!’ She called 911 and said they weren’t answering. I said, ‘hang up and try again.’ She hung up and tried again and said, ‘they’re still not answering,’ said Reed, who attempted to put out the blaze himself.
I was walking up and down the sidewalk saying, ‘where]s the help? Why won’t somebody help me?’ said Reed.
A spokesperson for the Atlanta Fire Department disputed claims that it took them 30 minutes to arrive, saying their records indicated crews arrived within five minutes.
But the spokesperson later told WSB-TV Channel 2 that an investigation is under way into whether a wrong address was called in to the 911 center and if computers went down at the time of the fire.
Reeds house was a total loss, but his family was not injured. Atlanta fire dispatch confirmed that one firefighter suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to Grady Hospital.
Poor man has lived here for 35-40 years; he’s a great neighbor, a great guy. It’s just horrible that this happened to him, said Riney.
Investigators planned to review tapes Monday of initial calls to the 911 center.