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911 calls go unanswered

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Everyone knows to call 911 in an emergency, but what happens if no one answers? It’s a question some New Hanover County residents were forced to answer over the weekend. “It rang and rang and rang and rang, and no one answered,” said Kathy Boone.

Around 6:30 Saturday night, neighbors noticed a fire at Johnson Farms the Lakes in New Hanover County. They immediately called 911.

“I had my cell phone on this ear and her house phone on the other ear,” Boone said, “and they were just ringing and ringing.”

Fellow neighbor John Cumbus said, “My wife tried three times to get 911 and the phone rang, nobody was there.”

About five neighbors called to report the house fire at 5103 Everett Court. They say they couldn’t believe no one answered their calls.

“I shut my eyes and I was like, wake up because you’re dreaming,” Boone said. “I really thought I was dreaming for a moment.”

After about five minutes of failed attempts to get through to 911, one neighbor called the sheriff’s department for help.

“On the third try with that she was told the fire department was on the way,” Cumbus said.

After that, neighbors say the fire department was there within minutes, but they’re not letting 911 operators off the hook just yet.

“It’s pretty uncomfortable,” Boone said. “I’ve got two small children so, it’s very concerning.”

Neighbors say a firefighter told them 911 was just too flooded with calls when neighbors tried to report the fire. One neighbor says 911 operators did eventually call back, but by that time firefighters were already on their way. Emergency services says it’s looking into why the calls weren’t answered.

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Story summary

videoEveryone knows to call 911 in an emergency, but what happens if no one answers? It’s a question some New Hanover County residents were forced to answer over the weekend. “It rang and rang and rang and rang, and no one answered,” said Kathy Boone.

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