By Cathy Locke
Lincoln fire and police officials credit the quick work of a dispatcher and first responders with preventing disaster after a rail tanker car filled with 30,000 gallons of propane ignited Aug. 23, prompting the evacuation of homes, businesses and City Hall in the northern part of the city.
Recordings of 911 calls, and police and fire radio traffic during the first few minutes after the fire was reported, were released Friday at a City Hall news conference.
Fire Chief Dave Whitt said the recordings reveal what the lone dispatcher, Teri Leedy, was dealing with as she sought to field 911 calls reporting the fire, while dispatching police and fire units, and summoning aid from surrounding communities.
Interim Police Chief Paul Shelgren said firefighters were dispatched 34 seconds after the first call, and were on scene within two minutes. Five minutes and 15 seconds after the first call, police arrived at the scene and began evacuating the neighborhood.
Within 6 minutes an ambulance was on scene, and within seven minutes, Roseville's hazardous materials team had been requested. Within 12 minutes, a Cal Fire truck was on scene and a Roseville Fire Department engine was en route.
Fire Chief Dave Whitt said firefighters immediately rolled out water hoses and began cooling the tanker with streams of water to prevent an explosion.
During the 40 hours before the fire burned itself out, the city received assistance from nearly 50 outside agencies, but Whitt said the actions taken in those first minutes were key to the successful outcome.