Dallas Firefighters Drive by Fatal Car Fire

Fire department reviewing response to avoid similar mistake in future

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Monday, Oct 8, 2012  |  Updated 7:08 PM CDT
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Dallas Fire-Rescue crews say they were delayed from arriving at the scene of a fiery car crash due to inaccurate information about the address of the scene.

Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News

Dallas Fire-Rescue crews say they were delayed from arriving at the scene of a fiery car crash due to inaccurate information about the address of the scene.

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A case of bad directions sent Dallas firefighters right past a burning car on Central Expressway where two men were later found dead, according to Dallas Fire-Rescue.

DFR spokesman Lt. Joel Lavender said firefighters were given two incorrect locations for the wreck that occurred on the northbound service road between Hall Street and Lemmon Avenue early Friday morning.

The driver lost control, crashed through an iron fence and struck a utility pole outside an apartment complex along the freeway.

The 25-year-old driver and a 19-year-old passenger were killed. The fire sent flames up into the trees close to apartments.

"Minutes do save lives. Seconds save lives," Lavender said. "We don't know what would have happened if we could have gotten here sooner, but we really would have enjoyed the opportunity to get here sooner and perhaps affect a rescue."

On the way from at station at Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue, firefighters were first told the wreck was on the southbound service road, Lavender said.

Then they were told the wreck was on the northbound main lanes of Central Expressway, so they entered Woodall Rodgers Freeway to use the closest ramp to northbound Central's main lanes.

"We took a longer distance to get here, but we wanted to make sure we were on the freeway at the proper time at the proper location," Lavender said.

The main lanes are far below the service road, so firefighters had to pass the wreck, exit and circle back.

"We encourage everyone to call 911 if they see an emergency, but it's so important for us to get accurate information the first time," Lavender said.

Two other passengers survived the accident with injuries.

Dallas police investigators determined that high speed was a factor in the wreck but have not concluded if drugs or alcohol were involved.

Police officers were on the scene for at least several minutes before firefighters. It was not clear why police could not have communicated the correct location to the fire department.

Dallas Fire-Rescue is not accusing firefighters of any wrongdoing, but Lavender said the response is being reviewed to avoid a similar mistake in the future.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office has performed autopsies on the victims, which could help determine whether they were still alive before the fire consumed their vehicle.

Police released tentative names of the victims, but they were so badly burned that formal identification by the medical examiner has not been completed and autopsy results have not been released.

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