Colorado: Jefferson County hopes to correct notification problems discovered during Lower North Fork Fire

Ann Appel
Ann Appel
Ann Appel, killed in her home during the Lower North Fork Fire. Photo courtesy of the Appel family.

On March 26, 2012 the Lower North Fork Prescribed Fire escaped and began roaring across the landscape southwest of Denver. Jefferson County utilized their reverse 911 system configured to make automated phone calls to a designated area, expecting that the residents would be notified to evacuate. Ann Appel, 51, along with 94 other residents, did not receive the call due to a glitch in the system.

Her remains were later found in the ashes of her home.

Two other people, Sam and Linda Lucas, were also killed but it is believed they received the evacuation phone call.

The notification system that failed was supplied by Louisiana-based FirstCall. Jefferson County Emergency Communications Authority has replaced it with the CodeRed service operated by Florida-based Emergency Communications Network.

They have already used the CodeRed system on two actual emergencies recently, but planned to conduct a more extensive test Wednesday, hoping to contact an estimated 330,000 to 360,000 phones.


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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.