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New Explanation For Reverse 911 Failures During Lower North Fork Fire Emerges

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - On the day the Lower North Fork Fire started not every reverse 911 call went out as intended. Now officials are explaining why.

As CBS4 reported, numerous people did not receive reverse 911 calls on March 26 when the fire broke out. Others got them late, and some people way out of the area shouldn't have gotten them but did.

Now the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department has released details of a conference call with its vendor FirstCall Network Inc. about went wrong.

Among those who died in the fire was 51-year-old cancer patient Ann Appel. She did not receive a reverse 911 call.

Ann Appel
Ann Appel (credit: Appel family)

The sheriff's department says it appears the call was not received because she has a Morrison address, but does not live in Morrison.

An audit of the addresses in the reverse 911 system has turned up 100,000 discrepancies in mapping the addresses. FirstCall's president Matt Teague told CBS4 News that those homes would have received warning calls regardless.

Among those who called in to 911 about the fire was Sam Lucas. He and his wife were the two others killed in the burn area. A call was placed from their home to 911 at 2:21 p.m. on the day of the fire.

Operator: JeffCo 911

Sam Lucas: Yes, this is Sam Lucas. We live up in the foothills and we just got home and it looks there's a fire right at the foot of Cathedral Spires. There was ...

Operator: That is ... that is a controlled burn. The forest service is out there on scene with that.

Same Lucas: You know we've got 79 mile an hour winds up here and they got a controlled burn?

Operator: yes

Sam Lucas: Oh wonderful. Thank You.

The fire spread rapidly, but the first reverse 911 calls did not go out until after 5 p.m. There was an error and they were stopped, then another round of calls went out at 5:23 p.m.

Minutes of a conference call between the sheriff's office, the Jeffco 911 Authority and FirstCall state that homes that had Littleton addresses were entered in the system properly, but those with Morrison addresses were not.

FirstCall Network has has recognized that there were problems with the coding and a re-examination is taking place.

Additionally there was discussion of why cell phones that were registered online with the county did not get notified. It turns out there are different systems mapping land line as opposed to cell phones.

The county and FirstCall Network will be having another conference call on the matter on Friday.

The fire destroyed or damaged 27 homes and covered 6 square miles.

RELATED: Lower North Fork Fire Included A Deadly Cascade Of Missteps

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