Friday, January 29, 2010

What Went Wrong?

If you drive by 1687 Houghton Dr. in Dunwoody Club Forest, it's impossible not to notice the vibrant floral arraignment that adorns the sharply sloped front yard. It stands in sharp contrast to the winter brown of the front lawn. As your eyes make the trek up the hill to where a stately 4-bedroom home once stood, it's impossible not to wonder what in the world went wrong.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, January 24th, the home at 1687 Houghton burned to the ground, killing 74-year old Ann Bartlett. Ms. Barlett, who had lived in the home for 41 years, called 911 at 1:03 that morning, reporting that she accidentally set her home on fire with the "thing for my nose." Despite the phone call, and the DeKalb County Fire Department - and even the Dunwoody Police Department - being dispatched to the scene almost immediately, nothing was done until more than 5 hours later. Four members of the fire department have been suspended, and DeKalb County has now released the findings of an internal investigation (click here to view). It is worth your time to read the report. And after you do, you'll be asking the same question I ask myself. Just how safe am I should a fire break out in my home?
No doubt heads will roll for a death that never should have happened. A lawsuit is likely. But at the end of the day, it should not have come to this. Hopefully we will learn from it, and it will never happen again.


Chip said...


One thing we can do in short order is to make sure we all have visible street numbers both at the curb and on the house itself.

It would be a good thing for the City Council to pass a resolution encouraging all Dunwoody homeowners and property owners to display street address numbers prominently.

If confusion about which house was which contributed to this, this would be one way of reducing the possibility that this would happen again.


Platos Republic said...

As the report stated, the firefighters had a big clue as to where the call came from (her address number was in between to houses with numbers displayed). It was 1 AM and seems like no one wanted to get out of their fire truck nor their police car.

Bob Fiscella said...

Platos - you have raised great questions on other sites. Obviously the fire department royally screwed up. Did the Dunwoody PD? Or in a case like this, does the police department takes its cues from fire, end of story? I simply don't know. But hopefully both departments did a lot more than just arrive at the scene, take a quick peek, and call it good.