Moore Co. 911 system fails 3 times in the past month - WNCT

Moore Co. 911 system fails 3 times in the past month

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A Moore County home burned early Sunday morning while the county's 911 system was down. (Jonathan Rodriguez, WNCN) A Moore County home burned early Sunday morning while the county's 911 system was down. (Jonathan Rodriguez, WNCN)
CARTHAGE, N.C. -

A Moore County home burned early Sunday morning while the county's 911 system was down.

Moore County Fire Marshal Kenneth Skipper said the fire at the home on Birch Drive in Vass was reported around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Skipper said the home was destroyed, but no one was home at the time of the blaze.

Patrick Brock, who lives next door, saw the fire and tried to call 911. He says he was shocked when nobody answered.

"It just rang. We tried the direct number to the sheriff's office, it just rang. We called the direct number to the communication center, and it just rang," Brock explained.

Bryan Phillips, the director of public safety for the county, said the 911 center experienced a power outage between 12:45 a.m. and 2:14 a.m.

County Manager Wayne Vest said power has been restored and the 911 system is once again functional, though the cause of the outage is under investigation.

The Moore County 911 center is located in the Public Safety building in Carthage, which has been in operation for only 32 days.

Since then, the 911 center has gone down three separate times.

On July 23, the phone lines were out of service for about 5-1/2 hours. On Aug. 9, the phone lines went down again for about 2-1/2 hours. In both cases, phone calls were able to be rerouted back to emergency crews. But this time, Vest said since it was a power failure, the calls went nowhere.

The county manager says they've been meeting to evaluate their system. He says they are considering a back up power supply strictly for the 911 center. All three times the failures have involved the phone lines. Vest says during a power failure the phone calls are supposed to be rerouted to other emergency phone lines. He says that rerouting system did not work. The phones lines for the center are operated by CenturyLink.

"You're taught as a child, dial 911 they'll be there as soon as possible. 911 this time, there was nothing," Brock said.

Vest said from the time Brock made the call to the time firefighters arrived, took about 20 minutes. Brock said once firefighters received the call, they responded quickly. 

"You can be the fastest fire department, but if you don't know there's a fire, there's nothing you can do." Brock said.

Randall Markham, who owns the home, said he was at a friends house.

"I came back home and... it was gone." said Markham. He didn't have insurance on the house.

"It's just a sick feeling... that was everything I had. I really don't know what I'm going to do now," he said.

"You pay many taxes for 911, you expect it to be there when you call it and in this instance it wasn't," Brock said. 

"We're making every effort to determine the exact cause of the outage. We're making every effort to make sure the calls that do come in are handled in a timely manner and our response is as quick as it can be," Vest assured.

Brock and Markham say they just hope the next time someone calls 911, someone will be able to answer.

Jonathan Rodriguez

Born in California but growing up in South Carolina, Jonathan Rodriguez joined WNCN in June 2013 as a digital journalist. More>>

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