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911 tape for blast reveals disdain

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A fire dispatcher’s dismissive and condescending tone with a frantic 911 caller reporting the deadly Waikele fireworks explosion led the Honolulu Fire Department to issue an apology Monday.

Fire Capt. Terry Seelig said the department is regretful not only for the curt responses by the dispatcher to the caller, but to everyone who hears the remark with an obscenity after the call ended.

The 911 tape, released to Hawaii News Now and "The Carroll Cox Show," contains desperate pleas from the supervisor of the men working for Donaldson Enterprises at the Waikele bunker, which blew up April 8. Five men died as a result of the blast.

The man excitedly screams for help, saying, "Can you guys hear me?"

The fire dispatcher says, almost casually, "Hello, hello. What’s going on?"

The caller says with extreme desperation in his voice, "They’re stuck in the fire! The fire’s in the storage. They’re all in there right now. They’re getting burned right now!"

"OK. What’s burning?"

"The bunker. The bunker is on fire! Waikele Storage. Geez. Hurry up!" the caller pleads.

The 911 operator says, "OK. We are already on our way, sir. What exactly is burning?"

The caller says, practically crying, "You guys (expletive)," and mumbles something unintelligible.

The dispatcher says, "OK. Calm down. You’re not helping me by being, uh, out of control."

"I can’t believe this is f——g happening to me. Oh, my God! Oh, my God!"

The caller hangs up.

The 911 operator says, "What a f——g idiot."

Seelig pointed out that the department had already sent trucks during the calls, and an ambulance also was on the way.

However, the department is also having all dispatchers undergo remedial training to respond appropriately to callers, he said. Seelig said he could not comment on action, if any, taken by the department against the individual dispatcher, but did say he was remorseful.

This is a transcript of the 911 call made to the Honolulu Fire Department April 8 by the supervisor of the five men killed in an explosion, four of whom were trapped inside the Waikele bunker where confiscated aerial fireworks were stored. The audio tape is provided courtesy of Hawaii News Now and “The Carroll Cox Show.”

911 Operator: “What’s going on?”

Caller: (Unintelligible) “They’re stuck in the fire. The fire’s in storage in the bunker they’re all in there right now! They’re getting burned right now!”

911 Operator: “OK, what’s burning?”

Caller: “The bunker. The bunker is on fire, Waikele Storage. Geez. Hurry up!”

911 Operator: “OK, we are on our way already, sir. What is exactly burning?”

Caller: “You got to get (expletive) down here.”

911 Operator: “OK, what is burning? Calm down, you’re not helping me by being, uh, out of control. What’s going on?”

Caller: “The whole place went up. Oh!”

911 Operator: “OK, do you know what was burning?”

Caller: “Yes. Fireworks, diesel, everything, my truck.”

911 Operator: “OK, your truck. Your truck was in there? How do you know there were fireworks in there?”

Caller: “Because that’s our job. We were working to take care — oh, my God — to get rid of them."

911 Operator: “OK, how many persons are in there?”

Caller: “There’s four people stuck in there.”

911 Operator: “OK, there are four persons in there. And the truck is in the bunker?”

Caller: “No, the truck is outside the bunker.”

911 Operator: “OK, so how is it burning on the inside then in the bunker?”

Caller: “It’s smoldering.”

911 Operator: “OK, it’s smoldering.”

Caller: “Yes, don’t you hear it? Oh, my God.”

911 Operator: “OK, I cannot hear fire, sir. Calm down. Calm down, sir. Let me help you. You’re not making it any easier.”

Caller: “I can’t believe this is (expletive) happening to me! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”

The caller hangs up.

911 Operator: “What a f——g idiot.”

 

 

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