Fire officials promise changes to prevent it from happening again.
An analysis done by the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services says a fire truck responding to a house fire in Myersville on January 31st made a wrong turn, and got stuck while trying to turn around. The vehicle arrived about an hour after being dispatched.
"This was not our best response," says Chief Tom Owens, Director of Fire and Rescue Services for the county.
The blaze in the 3900 block of Highland Avenue killed two girls, Madigan Lillard, Age 3, and her sister, Sophie Lillard, age 6. Four other family members were hospitalized.
According to the analysis, the county 911 center received the first call for a house on fire at around 11:19 PM, Thursday, January 31st. The dispatch went out at 11:20 PM, and the first units arrived on the scene at 11:27 PM, according to the report. Because of the possibility of people trapped, the Rapid Intervention Dispatch was sent.
The report says Engine 82 out of Myersville responded to an incorrect location, and Ambulance 89 followed along. The ambulance crew realized it was heading to the wrong location, and followed Engine 72 out of Middletown to the correct location, according to the analysis.
Despite this confusion, Chief Owens says even if Engine 82 arrived a little quicker at the scene, it may not have made much of a difference in the outcome. He says the home was well involved in flames when fire fighters arrived on the scene. "The autopsy results say, unfortunately, those children perished due to smoke inhalation, which means that they had perished so early into the fire event in that house that the intervention of the fire department, if our response had been perfect, I do not believe the outcome would have been different to the incident, as tragic as the outcome was," he says.
The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental.
Owens says the analysis was presented to Myersville Volunteer Fire Company members at a meeting at their fire hall. He says the report contains recommendations which would help make sure that this doesn't happen again.
"The Frederick County fire and rescue system responds to over 30,000 fire-rescue incidents a year. And overwhelmingly, we get it right. This one was not our best response, and we take the failure very seriously," says Owens.