ATLANTA, Ga. -- The voices of Atlanta firefighters working hard at Tyler Perry Studios Tuesday night:
Urgent, professional, and marshalling all the forces at their command for what they thought, at first, was a conflagration that might consume the entire studio complex.
They are the firefighters' voices heard on the city's official radio transmission recording, obtained by 11Alive News Friday.
The fire ended up causing relatively little damage compared to what firefighters thought it was causing when they first arrived.
It turns out the big fire was not, in fact, burning down the massive sound stages.
All that was burning were the flammable facades of a couple of the sound stages. The buildings themselves are, in fact, made up of thick, concrete walls which did not burn.
But 20 minutes after the original 911 call, firefighters were ordering a rare, 4th alarm.
CALLER: (8:41pm) My name is Craig Rice. I work at Tyler Perry Studios, and we have a fire in one of our stages....
911 OPERATOR: Yes, Sir, is anyone trapped or hurt?
CALLER: No, Ma'am. Nobody.
ATLANTA FIRE DEPARTMENT RADIO:
8:46pm "On the scene. Got a four-story. Fully involved. Wires involved... We're setting up the ladder... we've got heavy exposures."
8:52pm "Radio, go ahead (with) 2nd Alarm. I've got a second, four-story involved... this will be a defensive fire..."
8:52pm "Give me a 3rd alarm, 3rd alarm. I've got three, four-story structures involved."
8:54pm "All companies, we already have partial collapse of one of the structures."
Then they thought seven sound stages were on fire. At one point, one of the commanders said it was time to get help: "Radio, I know you've got a lot going on, but when you have time, start calling Fulton County and DeKalb County, to try to get some mutual-aid resources to the city."
The fire seemed to be spreading so quickly, multiple engines and ladder trucks tried to surround the studio complex.
The fire was igniting foilage, and a grass fire was moving toward the senior citizen high rise next door.
8:58pm "Be advised, these are movie stages. Also, we have some large explosions going off."
9:01pm "... recommend you (send) a 4th alarm. If we don't stop it here, we're going to lose this complex."
9:10pm "We have a report of people inside this building to your rear, in the basement..."
9:19pm "My concern is it burning through the roof and getting into the main portion of the structure."
But soon firefighters reported that the quickly-spreading fire was, in fact, contained to the exteriors of two buildings, and most importantly --
9:26pm "All personnel are accounted for, according to security."
Firefighters brought the fire under control at 9:45pm, one hour after the first units arrived on the scene.
On Wednesday, Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran said, "The command decisions to call for the 4th Alarm response early in the incident was key to the quick extinguishment and stopping the fire-spread to other buildings at the studio. Rather than the fire overwhelming our firefighters, we had enough firefighters on scene to overwhelm the incident."
The final report on the fire has not been completed and released, yet, but so far the cause of the fire is listed as "undetermined." That may not change, since, according to the spokesman in the Chief's office, Capt. J.L. Bundrige, "The intensity of the fire in the area of origin consumed any evidence that would lead to a cause of ignition."