SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - Sonoma County has released the 911 calls recorded the night and early morning the deadly North Bay fires broke out.
It’s been two months since hundreds of wildfires in Napa and Sonoma County killed 44 people. The calls are shedding light on what may have caused some of the initial fires and how law enforcement handled evacuations.
KTVU’s 2 Investigates team received 1,029 audio clips. Although still going through all of the files, our team has listened to hundreds so far detailing what people first reported the night of October 8, 2017. Here are some.
October 8, 7:25 PM
Caller: “The approximate address is about 1500 Adobe Canyon Road. The power lines and the actual trees, um, that were touching those power lines were on fire.”
Dispatcher: “Tree on fire?”
Caller: “They were and then they blew out, but then there were a lot of sparks for a high fire danger area. The power lines were definitely creating sparks.”
October 8, 7:33 PM
Caller: “We need you guys expedited. A tree branch into power lines that were arching. The area of 1563 Adobe Canyon Road in Kenwood.”
October 9, 12:09 AM
Caller: “We’re seeing a lot of flames and loud explosions on Warm Springs Road.”
As transcribed above, multiple calls reported what could be some of the first PG&E power line-related sparks around Sonoma County. Currently, PG&E is under fire and facing numerous lawsuits. accusing the company of putting profits before public safety by failing to trim vegetation around its equipment. Later in the night (and early in the morning), 911 calls started revealing how law enforcement dealt with frantic callers worried about evacuating.
October 9, 12:10 AM
Dispatcher: “In the event that we have to evacuate, we will call you on your landline and a Sheriff’s deputy will come to your home.”
October 9, 12:12 AM
Caller: “How do we know if there’s an emergency and we have to evacuate? Will people tell us?”
Dispatcher: “The police department has a reverse 911 system and they’ll call you.”
Caller: “On our home phone?”
Dispatch: “I hope so.”
In October, 2 Investigates reported on complaints and concerns that residents were not given enough warning or no warning at all. Sonoma County’s Sheriff said there was fear of causing panic and jamming up roadways needed by first responders. 42 people died in the North Bay fires.
2 Investigates is still going through all 1,029 audio clips. We’ll update this story as more information is discovered.