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Fire Sparks Dallas Investigation Into Emergency Response Time

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Andrea Lucia
Andrea joined CBS 11 and TXA 21 in September 2010, one day befo...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dora Fuller woke up on July 4 to find her house on fire. When neighbors urgently dialed 911, looking for help, though, they say all they got was a busy signal.

“I don’t know what happened down there, but the calls weren’t going through,” said Edric Fuller, her son.

The help they were seeking wasn’t far. Fire Station No. 23 is just one block away.
The Fuller family says someone even ran down the street and banged on the door trying to get a response.

“Got no reply,” said Edric.
Firefighters say, they did come to the door, but didn’t find anyone there.

The city of Dallas and the Dallas Police Department, in turn, are investigating the issues neighbors say they encountered with 911. Police say a spike in calls may be to blame.

Between 12:30 a.m. and 12:45 a.m., they say, 177 calls came into the call center.

There were 13 operators working, at the time, four more than usual because of the holiday. If they were all busy, police say, callers should have heard a recording asking them to wait.

Dallas police say at 12:36 a.m., they got their first call from the scene of the fire, but the caller reportedly hung up before an operator answered.

In the next three minutes, another six callers also dialed in, but hung up.  Twice, operators called back, but got voicemail.

At 12:39 a.m. an operator finally reached a caller, but police say the person couldn’t provide an accurate location for the fire. Two minutes after that, a second caller got through.

In all, almost nine minutes passed from the very first call to when fire trucks finally arrived on scene.

“I’m shocked especially because they’re so close,” said Shujuana Walker, a family member.

The Fullers say there’s nothing left of their 30 year home.

“Nothing but memories,” said Walker.

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