A Jackson man's house was destroyed in a fire over the weekend and he says it didn't have to happen.
"What took you so long? Because you could've saved the house," said Lee Simmons about the Jackson Fire Department.
Simmons and his family are filing a case with the Jackson Police Department, claiming the Jackson Fire Department took so long to respond that what started as a small kitchen fire ended up destroying the majority of their home early Sunday morning.
"It was about 45 minutes or an hour before they came!" said Simmons. "You could walk to the station in that time! We're in walking distance from the station."
He's not exaggerating. Simmons' house is at 355 Catalina Circle.
The closest fire department is on McFadden Road 0.6 miles away. Going the speed limit, that drive takes about two and a half minutes.
"Timing the distance from the house to the fire station took about 2 and a half minutes. And that's driving speed limit," added Simmons.
Simmons says he and his family put out a grease fire in their kitchen overnight but called the Jackson Fire Department asking them to make sure everything was okay.
His daughter says she spoke with 911 dispatch and she does have an outgoing call at 4:12 AM. But her phone only shows the conversation lasting 2 seconds and dispatch has no record of it happening at all.
Simmons' son says he called even earlier and experienced the exact same thing.
"We had contained it. We stayed in here about 15 or 20 minutes and all of us walked outside and said 'What's taking the firemen so long?' So we was just waiting on the firemen by then," said Simmons. "Then 20 or 30 minutes later, the guy over there said, 'It's coming through your roof!'"
At 4:52, the fire sparked back up and Simmons' daughter called 911 again, a 32-second-long conversation.
The family and several neighbors say when JFD hadn't arrived 10 minutes later, Simmons' daughter drove to the nearest fire department asking for help.
"And they was angry with my daughter for going to the station," said Simmons.
But the Division Fire Chief Cleotha Sanders says call records at dispatch say fire crews left at 4:48 and arrived at the house at 4:51.
The family and neighbors who say they witnessed everything say that's not possible.
"You could've driven from Yazoo City in less time than they responded to these people's houses," said one neighbor who witnessed the fire but asked not to be identified.
Simmons' son took a Snapchat of the house in flames, with JFD nowhere in sight, taken at 5:02 AM. That's 11 minutes after the City's 911 Communication Center stamped the fire department down as being on scene.
"Then when they got here they weren't in no urgency to do nothing," added the neighbor. "It was like they were waiting on the cavalry. And the cavalry was another 10 or 15 minutes before they got here."
Simmons' daughter says she's going to C-Spire to try to see if the company has different call records than what appeared on her phone so she and the family can move forward with their case.
Chief Cleotha Sanders says the Jackson Fire Department is sorry for the family's loss but believes neither the fire department, nor dispatch, nor C-Spire is to blame for the loss of the house.
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715 South Jefferson Street
Jackson, MS 39201