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Dispatching error delays Iowa firefighters’ response

The woman called 911 in a panic and accidentally gave the dispatcher the wrong address, sending firefighters in the wrong direction

The Hawk Eye

BURLINGTON, Iowa — A mistaken address caused a Burlington woman’s home to burn longer than it normally would have.

Mary Lou Banks, who lives at 1033 Brooks St., called emergency services in a panic after her kitchen caught fire shortly before 7 p.m. Friday. Fire Marshal Mark Crooks said she accidently gave the dispatcher the wrong address when she called, sending firefighters to the west side of town. When the fire department received the correct address, it turned around and drive to the north side of town.

The fire was called in at 6:51 p.m., and the first fire truck arrived at 6:57 p.m. But since most of the fire trucks were sent to the other address, firefighters on the scene had to do the best they could until back-up arrived.

A total of 13 Burlington firefighters and three West Burlington firefighters battled the blaze, declaring it extinguished at 8:19 p.m.

Damage mostly was contained to the kitchen, though there is heat and smoke damage throughout the house. Firefighters remained on scene until 12:27 a.m. Saturday.

“There was heavy black smoke coming from the front door, and flames coming from a window near the rear of the one-story wood-frame house,” Crooks said.

Banks managed to get her two dogs out of the house, but her cat died in the blaze. Banks herself was not injured, and the house is insured.

The house, which Crooks valued at about $50,000, sustained $25,000 in damage, with an additional $20,000 worth of damage to the contents.

The official cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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