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Fatal fire study 'halfway finished'
Spotsylvania County Fire and Rescue Chief Chris Eudailey says he expects the internal review of a Feb. 5 fatal house fire to be completed within a month

AUDIO: Click here to listen to audio of the fire dispatch call.

TRANSCRIPT 1: Call from victim to 911 in fatal fire

TRANSCRIPT 2: View the text of the fire dispatch call.

BLOG: Reporter explains origin of this story.

Editor's Note: This audio file contains a portion of Sandy Hill’s communication with a 911 dispatcher during the Feb. 5 fire that claimed Hill’s life. Some of the contents may be disturbing to listeners. Free Lance–Star editors believe this information is important to understanding what happened in the rescue attempt. Hill’s immediate family members were informed of the newspaper’s plans. Her mother, Lillian Hill, said she was OK with posting the recording if it helps save lives in the future.

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Date published: 4/8/2010

By DAN TELVOCK

Spotsylvania County Fire and Rescue Chief Chris Eudailey said he expects to have the internal review of a Feb. 5 fatal house fire in less than a month.

Two career firefighters and two fire and rescue volunteers started the review March 12, about two weeks after The Free Lance-Star received copies of the 911 calls and dispatch recordings.

"They are about halfway finished," he said of the review.

Eudailey said the group has met in excess of 10 times, including a visit to the house across the street from Riverbend High School on Spotswood Furnace Road.

Sandy Hill, 43, is believed to have died from smoke inhalation in her second-floor bedroom, but Eudailey said he has not seen a final autopsy report. She was a local actress and singer, who worked at Geico in Stafford County.

Hill was on a cell phone during the fire, telling the dispatcher where she was in the house as volunteer firefighters searched the two-story Cape Code home.

It took firefighters about 20 minutes to locate Hill, who at that point was unresponsive and not breathing on her bedroom floor. A ladder was never brought to her two bedroom windows, fire officials said in March.

Eudailey said he has kept a distance from the internal review and speaks only to a person he said is a "point of contact" for the team.

That person has "relayed to me they are getting full and complete cooperation from all individuals who have been asked to come and share information," Eudailey said. "The review is going well."

He said the four-member review team has not started writing a report.

Eudailey said the volunteer assistant chief who was in charge at the scene of the fire has completed a written report as required by standard operating procedures. This report is separate from what the review team is doing, Eudailey said.

The guidelines do not require the volunteers to give Eudailey, the chief of the combined system of volunteers and paid firefighters and medics, a copy of that report. However, they did supply him with one.

It is supposed to contain relevant facts pertaining to the fire, lessons learned, a summary of on-scene operations and any recommendations for changes to operating procedures.

He said the report has a schematic drawing of the house and about three pages of other information, but he would not discuss it further.

Eudailey declined to release the report, saying he wants to protect the integrity of the internal review. He said the report was provided to the review team.

Dan Telvock: 540/374-5438
Email: dtelvock@freelancestar.com