OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash. – Thousands of radio calls came into call centers as crews scrambled to battle the Carlton Complex Fire.
The number of calls the Okanogan County Dispatch Team received in July was almost double what it normally sees in a typical month. Because of this, dispatchers quickly realized how dangerous the Carlton Complex Fire was.
The Sheriff’s Office broke down the number of calls by day. More than 1,000 calls were received the first two days of the fire compared to less than 500 any other day of July.
The fire started early in the week, but by Thursday, July 17 and Friday, July 18, crews were struggling to even get close to the flames.
“For me it was kind of impressive, I knew we were busy that night and there was a lot going on because the airwaves were just inundated with radio traffic,” said Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers.
Sheriff Rogers called those first two days was “organized chaos.” Looking at the call logs, he was reminded how many people were in need of help and how overwhelming the fire was for his team.
Rogers said there is no clear lesson from this experience because he knows everyone did the best they could. He hopes they never have to deal with a disaster like this again.
“This basically blows everything out of the water that we’ve ever dealt with,” said Sheriff Rogers.