Dispatcher loses everything in early-morning fire

Published 10:52 am Thursday, January 3, 2019

A Suffolk dispatcher dispatched the call about a fire at her own home early Thursday morning.

Dispatcher Barbara Hughes lost her home and all of her possessions in the fire, according to a Facebook post by the Suffolk Police Officers’ Association Local 780. She also lost her three dogs in the fire.

“Barbara was on duty in the Emergency Communications Center when this occurred and she actually dispatched the fire call herself,” the post states. “Not only did Barbara lose her home and all of her possessions that were inside, she lost her three beloved dogs.”

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A GoFundMe account set up to help Hughes states that she “immediately thought the worst” when the call reporting flames in the area of her home came in. However, she remained calm enough to dispatch the call appropriately. Another dispatcher soon took over as Hughes rushed home.

“A few never-ending minutes later, the Fire Department had confirmed that it was her residence and that it was fully engulfed,” the GoFundMe account states.

The call to the home in the 3100 block of Indian Trail, at the corner of Deer Path Road, came in about 1:28 a.m., according to a city press release. Units arrived at the single-story residence at 1:37 a.m.

The home was fully engulfed in flames when units arrived.

The fire was called under control at 2:23 a.m. Hughes was displaced and is being assisted by family, the press release stated.

The Fire Marshal’s Office will be investigating the cause of the fire.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Hughes with expenses and can be found at www.gofundme.com/heroes-for-dispatcher-hughes.

“As our hearts are breaking for her during this tragedy, we ask that everyone come together as the first responder family that we are, and assist in any way possible,” the post states. “No amount or donation is too small.”

Those who would like to donate cash or checks can take them straight to the city’s Emergency Communications Center at City Hall, 442 W. Washington St., according to the post.