Pool house catches fire near Chaffee

Friday, December 20, 2002

CHAFFEE, Mo. -- Emergency dispatchers had trouble determining which fire department to contact to respond to a pool house fire near Chaffee Thursday morning because the home was on a new, unmapped road and the homeowner used a cellular phone.

Three charred wooden frames and a pile of black rubble are what's left of a pool house that stood next to the home of Gerald Beck and his family, located just off of Route EE.

The structure was a total loss, said Chaffee fire chief Mike Lee. The cause of the fire was unknown, and the incident is considered accidental, he said.

The building was not occupied during the fire and no injuries were reported. Chaffee was assisted by Delta firefighters.

Called for help

When Beck called for help on a cellular phone, he could not get through to the 911 dispatch center in Scott County, said John Sachen, training officer with the Delta fire crew. The call was first routed to Stoddard County's 911 dispatch, then to city of Cape Girardeau.

Beck told dispatchers the house was on Victorian Lane, but the road is relatively new and was not listed on the maps available, Sachen said. Dispatchers mistakenly thought the caller meant Victoria Drive in Cape Girardeau, he said.

When the resident called back and said the house was just west of Chaffee, officials then had a better idea of which fire department to contact. Ultimately, it was Cape Girardeau County dispatchers who contacted the Chaffee and Delta fire departments, he said.

"This illustrates the difficulty of the cell phone situation," Sachen said. "It was never routed to Scott County 911."

Beck could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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