Fire SNAFU in Richland - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fire SNAFU in Richland

Donnie Westberry Donnie Westberry
  • More WALB News10 HeadlinesMore News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Phoebe foundation receives donation for medical student housing

    Phoebe foundation receives donation for medical student housing

    Thursday, July 31 2014 11:25 PM EDT2014-08-01 03:25:30 GMT
    Lauren Ray, Phoebe Foundation Executive DirectorLauren Ray, Phoebe Foundation Executive Director
    A generous donation will help build a $5 million medical student housing facility on Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital's campus.The Richard King Mellon Foundation donated $1 million to the Phoebe Foundation for the proposed 25-unit gated community. More >>
    A generous donation will help build a $5 million medical student housing facility on Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital's campus.The Richard King Mellon Foundation donated $1 million to the Phoebe Foundation for the proposed 25-unit gated community. More >>
  • Dougherty County School System has Open House

    Dougherty County School System has Open House

    Thursday, July 31 2014 11:19 PM EDT2014-08-01 03:19:35 GMT
    Valerie Williams, Radium Springs Middle School PrincipalValerie Williams, Radium Springs Middle School Principal
    Dougherty County parents and students got to meet old and new faces at their schools this evening.The school system held an open house at each school for families to meet the staff and learn what to expect for the upcoming school year.More >>
    Dougherty County parents and students got to meet old and new faces at their schools this evening.The school system held an open house at each school for families to meet the staff and learn what to expect for the upcoming school year.More >>
  • Law enforcement and first responders collaborate for "National Night Out"

    Law enforcement and first responders collaborate for "National Night Out"

    Thursday, July 31 2014 11:14 PM EDT2014-08-01 03:14:28 GMT
    Imaya FreeloveImaya Freelove
    First responders reached out to the community Thursday night to build better relationships and help kids get ready for school.For the first time, all the law enforcement and first responder agencies in Dougherty County worked together on a National Night Out event. More >>
    First responders reached out to the community Thursday night to build better relationships and help kids get ready for school.For the first time, all the law enforcement and first responder agencies in Dougherty County worked together on a National Night Out event. More >>

July 25, 2003

Richland-- It's bad enough that your house catches on fire, but what if the firefighters can't get to the fire truck? Sound like a comedy sketch? It really happened in Richland, Georgia.

The fire consumed the entire house,"Oh my God, my house is burning down. I didn't think it was going to go that far because it started in the closet." A small fire Patricia Westbury thought could be easily extinguished.

But when she called 911, the fire trucks didn't come, "I see the chief standing right here and I see fire coming out of the door and I'm thinking, where's the fire truck at, my God!"

"I come home, all my kids, my wife, everyone is crying. I'm trying to figure out what's going on" says Donnie Westbury. He quickly found out, "Come to find out, they couldn't get in the fire department, the Lumpkin fire department were ready for twenty minutes. All they were waiting for was the call."

The Westburys say the Richland police chief had the wrong key to the fire department and couldn't get inside. A dozen volunteer firemen were at work or on vacation. Mr. Westbury says, "Even the people on vacation or at work, they should have called for backup. Somebody knew when they got to the fire station they couldn't get in that building."

Records show dispatch notified Lumpkin firefighters eleven minutes after the first call--their trucks arrived 12 minutes after that. The house, by this time, was engulfed in flames. Now, only a few charred items remain, like this antique fire truck Mr. Westbury got when he was a child, "It was a nice looking fire truck, it looks like the rest of my house now."

The rest of the house in shambles, the family questioning if the right key would have been the key to saving their home. The family did get some help from a jail work detail. Six inmates and their supervising officer moved six propane tanks away from the burning home and used water hoses to try to contain the fire. The Richland police chief couldn't be reached for comment.

Posted at 4:30 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com