911 dispatcher mistakenly sends firefighters to wrong address during apartment building fire

FOX 5's Paul Wagner reports.

- A New Year’s Day fire at a Northwest D.C. apartment building burned unattended for as long as 12 minutes after dispatchers sent firefighters to the wrong address.

No one was injured, but four apartments were badly damaged or destroyed on 40th Street after firefighters were sent miles away to 14th Street.

Rosie Georgieva was asleep inside her apartment at 2204 40th Street when her dog, Roxy, began barking.

"I thought maybe she heard a mouse or something, so I get up,” said Georgieva.

It was 4:35 a.m. on Jan. 1 and smoke was filling her home. She quickly picked up her cell phone and called 911.

"I scream on the phone -- the lady on 911, she actually stayed with me all the time, she said all the time they're coming, they're coming,”

But for nearly six minutes as the fire raged, that was not the case. The dispatcher actually sent help miles away to the wrong address.

Several fire engines and trucks were sent from quarters on 13th Street, NW and U Street, NW. But when they arrived at 2204 14th Street, there was neither smoke nor fire.

Firefighters then asked the dispatcher for more information. At that point, dispatchers at the 911 call center corrected the mistake and sent different trucks and engines to 40th Street, NW.

Georgieva was just thankful to be alive and had no idea a mistake had been made.

"When I get home, I saw that my neighbor’s light was on and I thought somebody was inside and they didn't answer,” she told us. “I get scared that we were all going to get burned because the smoke detectors didn’t go on and there is no fire alarm in the building.”

Her apartment was heavily damaged, but with the kindness of some friends and her employer, she has warm clothes to wear and a place to stay.

"Now I am safe, but it’s okay, it’s material stuff you know,” Georgieva said. “Life is the most important thing in this life.”

Georgieva was the only one home when the fire broke out. There was tremendous damage to the building and much of it was still boarded up on Monday. At least three units were affected and some cars in the back of the building were destroyed as well.

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