Lightning causes fire displacing 12 in Broward amid unanswered 911 calls

The residents of a row of townhomes were homeless after three lightning bolts caused a fire on Sunday in Broward County.

NORTH LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The residents of a row of townhomes were homeless on Monday after three lightning bolts caused a fire during a storm Sunday in Broward County, officials said.

Tina Stennett said that when she smelled the smoke she called 911 to ask for help near the intersection of Northwest 62 Street and Rockisland Road in North Lauderdale.

Stennett said no one answered.

“The phone kept ringing and ringing,” Stennett said.

Related story: Shortage of 911 operators means dispatch can’t deal with flood of calls on single incident

She wasn’t the only one who reported her 911 calls from the Players Place community went unanswered. Sabine Baptiste told Local 10 News Reporter Bridgette Matters that the same happened to her.

“I’m calling 911, no one is answering and we’re waiting for someone to pick up, and in the meantime, we’re trying to gather our stuff so we can run out,” Baptist said on Sunday. “Everything is gone. “

Sara Reilly was among the 12 displaced. She said the townhome that she and her three kids had called home was a mess.

“There was smoke everywhere, water everywhere. And you know, stuff is ruined,” Reilly said adding, “We just were lucky that nobody died.”

In May, Broward County commissioners voted to allocate $4 million to the Broward Sheriff’s Office communication budget after Sheriff Gregory Tony said there was a staff shortage at 911 call centers.

In March, Doreen Simac and her husband Daniel Torres told Local 10 News Reporter Roy Ramos that their 911 calls went unanswered after they were the victims of a hit-and-run crash in Hollywood.

Pembroke Park also reported having the same problems.

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About the Authors:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.