North Raleigh Tornado - November 28, 1988

Last updated: August 23, 2017


Contents

  • Introduction
  • Maps
  • Raleigh Fire Department Profile
  • Wake County EMS Profile
  • Response Summary
  • Run Card
  • Aerial Photos
  • News & Observer Photos
  • Log Book Entries
  • News & Observer Graphic
  • Sources

Introduction

This web page was created by Mike Legeros on December 7, 2013.  It contains information about the Raleigh Fire Department and its response to the “north Raleigh tornado,” a storm that struck without warning on November 28, 1988.

The tornado touched down in Raleigh just after 1:00 a.m. It remained on the ground for 84 miles, carving a path that eventually reached Northampton County, northeast of Roanoke Rapids. It impacted six North Carolina counties. Four people were killed, two in Nash County, and two children in Raleigh.

In Raleigh, over 157 people were injured. The storm destroyed 425 residential structures and seventy-eight commercial buildings in the city. Over 2,000 homes sustained some form of damage, and nearly 1,000 residents were displaced. Damage totals reached around $77 million.

Maps 

 

Raleigh Fire Department Profile

The Raleigh Fire Department in November 1988 protected 201,111 residents and 86.95 square miles with eighteen fire stations, nineteen engines, four aerial ladder trucks, two service ladder trucks, and two rescue units. The fire companies were supervised by three District Chiefs. The fire stations included the earlier location for Station 4, at 2913 Wake Forest Road.

Their special units included three brush trucks called mini-pumpers, two hazardous materials unit, a foam truck (pick-up with high-expansion generator), and a combination mobile air and command post unit (extended panel van).

The fire chief was Sherman A. Pickard. He supervised three Assistant Chiefs: Robert M. Whittington (Operations), E. Buck King (Services), and Fire Marshal James T. Owens (Fire Prevention). The Raleigh Fire Department had 355 authorized positions in FY88 (including 335 firefighters) and answered 9,409 fire calls that year.

Wake County EMS Profile

Wake County EMS in November 1988 operated from three stations. Station 1 at 201 W. Martin Street housed three ambulances (EMS 1, EMS 4, EMS 5), and a shift supervisor (EMS 103, EMS 104, EMS 105, depending on who was working. They were personally assigned unit numbers). Station 2 at 2024 Noble Road housed two ambulances (EMS 2 and EMS 6). Station 3 at 5305 Six Forks Road, the former Six Forks Volunteer Fire Department building, housed EMS 3. Each ambulance was staffed with two paramedics.

The organization was led by Director Gerald Brown (EMS 100). He supervised Operations Director Linwood Barham (EMS 101) and two Training Officers, Joseph Zalkin (lead) and Steve Gardner (assistant). They were each paramedics and also participated in emergency responses as available or requested.

Response Summary

On November 30, 1988, the Raleigh Fire Department submitted a response summary to the City Manager’s office. The report contained the following information.

Tornado Disaster Incident - November 28, 1988

City of Raleigh Units and Personnel Responding

Fire Department

Number of personnel - Approximately 225

50 Captain
50  Firefighter II
125  First Class and Firefighter I

Number of units:

12 Engines
2 [Ladder] Trucks
3 Mini-Pumpers
2 Rescue Units
1 Foam Unit
11 Cars [District Chiefs and other fire officers]
1 Special Risk Unit
1 Firefighter on personal vehicle using chain saw to remove trees and limbs from road - 8 gals.

Number of gallons of fuel - 638

Mileage of all equipment - 1,550

Number of overtime hours - Approximately 1443.75

Police Department

[ Their information was not included in the report. ]

Wake County Fire Units and Personnel

Apex FD 19 personnel
2 brush trucks
1 car
1 utility truck
Bay Leaf FD 33 personnel
3 engines
1 car
Cary City
3 personnel
1 brush truck
Durham Highway FD [ not included in report ]
Fairgrounds FD 20 personnel
1 engine
1 brush truck
1 car *
Fairview FD 18 personnel
1 engine
1 brush truck
Fuquay-Varina FD 5 personnel
2 engines
Garner FD 8 personnel
2 engines
Knightdale FD 24 personnel
2 engines
3 brush trucks
Morrisville FD 11 personnel
1 engine
1 brush truck
Six Forks FD 27 personnel
4 engines
1 brush truck *
Stony Hill FD 12 personnel
1 engine
1 brush truck
Swift Creek FD 4 personnel
1 brush truck *
Wake New Hope FD 33 personnel
2 engines
1 light truck *
Yrac FD 15 personnel
2 engines
Wake County Fire Marshal's Office 3 personnel

*Indicates volunteer [fire department] that the city of Raleigh contracts with. 

Wake County EMS/Rescue [Squad] Units

Apex 2 ambulances
Cary3 ambulances
crash unit
command post
Fuquay 2 ambulances
Garner 2 ambulances
crash truck
Knightdale 2 ambulances
crash truck
Northern Wake ambulances
Six Forks 2 ambulances
crash truck
Wendell 2 ambulances
crash truck
Zebulon 1 ambulance
Wake County EMS various units
Other Private ambulance companies that responded
included two Duke LifeFlight mobile units. 

Wake County Sheriff's Department

  • Forty (40) Cars, approximately
  • Forty (40) Personnel

[ The sheriff’s department’s mobile command post was not included in the report . ]

Other Law Enforcement Agencies

[ Other agencies, such as the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, were also not included in the report. ]

Durham County Units and Personnel

Bahama FD 2 personnel
Bethesda FD 9 personnel
1 engine
1 rescue truck
1 ambulance
Durham County EMS 4 personnel
3 ambulances
Lebanon FD 4 personnel
1 engine
Parkwood FD 8 Personnel
2 ambulances
1 crash unit
Redwood FD 9 personnel
1 engine
1 ambulance
1 rescue truck

[ What other fire departments outside Wake and Durham counties responded? Every fire department in Johnston County was alerted and/or dispatched to the incident. Those departments were:

  • Antioch  FD
  • Archer Lodge FD
  • Benson FD
  • Bentonville FD
  • Bethany FD
  • Blackman’s Crossroads FD
  • Brogden FD
  • Clayton FD
  • Cleveland FD
  • Corinth-Holders FD
  • Elevation FD
  • 50/210 FD
  • Four Oaks FD
  • Kenly FD
  • Meadow FD
  • Micro FD
  • Pine Level FD
  • Princeton FD
  • Selma FD
  • Smithfield FD
  • Strickland’s Crossroads FD
  • Thanksgiving FD
  • West Johnston FD
  • Wilson’s Mills FD ]

Other Outside EMS/Rescue Squad Units

South Granville Rescue Squad 2 ambulances
Clayton Rescue 2 ambulances
Kenly Rescue 1 ambulance
Angier Rescue 1 ambulance
Selma Rescue 2 ambulances
Dunn Rescue 1 ambulance
Erwin Rescue 1 ambulance
Coats Rescue 1 ambulance
Boone Trail Rescue 1 ambulance
Orange County Rescue 1 ambulance
Smithfield Rescue 1 crash truck
1 ambulance
1 car

Gasoline/Diesel Used Other Than Raleigh

Redwood FD 15 gallons gasoline
New Hope FD 16.5 gallons gasoline
South Granville Rescue 23 gallons gasoline
Durham [FD?] 2 gallons gasoline
Redwood FD 25 gallons diesel
Bethesda FD 31 gallons diesel
Parkwood FD 40 gallons diesel

[ The Raleigh Fire Department fuel truck was present, along with fuel trucks from the Wake County School System. ]

[ Other resources at the scene included a Capital Area Transit bus, used for responder rehab. ]

Aerial Photos

CCBI photographer Gary Knight took these aerial photos of the command post and staging area at the Townridge Shopping Center on Highway 70 on the morning of November 28, 1988.

 
Gary Knight/CCBI photo.

 
Gary Knight/CCBI photo. This wider view shows the destroyed K-Mart.


Gary Knight/CCBI photo. This west-facing view shows Central Make Sales in the center of the frame, and the Durham Highway fire station in the center-left of the frame.


Gary Knight/CCBI photo. Here’s a closer (and distorted) view of the Durham Highway fire station on Davis Circle. The circa 1965 building suffered minor damage, but was not blown down, as some have remembered as having happened.

News & Observer Photos


November 28, 1988. Courtesy (Raleigh) News & Observer


November 28, 1988. Courtesy (Raleigh) News & Observer


November 28, 1988. Courtesy (Raleigh) News & Observer

Run Card

Raleigh Fire Departments units that responded included:

  • Engine 4 (at 0800)
  • Engine 5
  • Engine 6
  • Engine 7
  • Engine 9
  • Engine 10 (at 0700)
  • Engine 12
  • Engine 14
  • Engine 15
  • Engine 16
  • Engine 17
  • Engine 18
  • Truck 15
  • Truck 16
  • Rescue 6
  • Rescue 7
  • Car 51 (District Chief)
  • Car 53 
  • Mini 3 (brush truck)
  • Mini 9
  • Mini 17
  • Foam 5 (pick-up truck, as personnel transport)
  • SR 1 (mobile command post/air truck)
  • Car 91
  • M-30 (shop truck)
  • M-32 (fuel truck)

Plus call back personnel, many of whom responded to the scene in personal vehicles.

Coverage at Raleigh fire stations included:

  • Station 6 - Engine 13.
  • Station 12 - Knightdale Fire Department.

Raleigh units that did not respond:

  • E1
  • E2
  • E3
  • E8
  • E11
  • E19
  • T1
  • T8
  • T11
  • C52 (?).

Log Book Entries

Introduction

The following log book entries were hand-entered by Raleigh Fire Department company officers and chief officers, in the hours and days following the tornado. They have been reproduced with minimal corrections to spelling and syntax.

Note that the tornado’s first strike in Wake County occurred at 1:08 a.m. in Umstead State Park, near Interstate 40.  The storm system was unexpected. At 1:00 a.m., no severe thunderstorm or tornado warning had been issued for Raleigh or Wake County. By 1:30 a.m., the storm had moved out of northern Wake County.

Station 19

Forthcoming.

Station 18

11/27

0156 - 7405 Old Fox Tr. From this time on, Eng 18 assigned as needed because of damage from tornado.

1130 - “C” shift relieved of duty. “A” shift 10-8 on Eng 18.

Station 17

11/28

0118 - Eng 17 responded to 5928 Shadetree Ln.

0125 - Eng 17 10-23 building collapse from tornado. Eng 17 & Mini 17 were involved in search & rescue. Off-duty personnel on “A” & “B” shift were called on duty. Eng 17 & Mini 17 continued with disaster search & rescue.

1101 - Eng 17 & Mini 17 10-8.

Station has some minor damage.

Tree have been removed from parking lot at front of station.

2110 - Power to station restored.

11/29

0800 - Roll call. “B” shift on duty.

0953 - Eng. 17 responded to 4501 Creedmoor Rd.

0958 - Eng. 17 10-8.

2156 - Eng. 17 responded to 6500 Glenwood Ave.

2159 - Eng. 17 10-23. Fire for warmth.

2201 - Eng. 17 10-8.

11/30

0800 - Roll call. “A” shift on duty.

1200 - Eng 17 returned from shop and reserve unit sent back to shop.

12/2

1108 - Eng 17 responded 6600 Glenwood [Avenue] - K-Mart.

1110 - Eng 17 10-23 [with a] Code 2 [working fire].

1231 - Eng 17 10-8.

Station 16

11/28

0118 - Eng 16, Truck 16 responded to 5928 Shadetree Lane. 10-23 at 0129. Eng 16 & Trk 16 personnel assisted in removing trapped victims. Stayed 10-6 in territory checking all homes for anyone needing assistance. Burgess, Walker, Williford, Rich [?], Dew [?], H. Jones on duty until 11:30 a.m. on 11-28-88.

0215 - “A” shift personnel assigned to Station 16 [are] en route to staging area on Lynn Road.

0230 - “A” shift personnel assigned to Eng 16 en route to command center on Glenwood Ave.

0645 - “A” shift personnel back at station.

0830 - All station personnel assigned to search & rescue in Sector 2.

1130 - Search & rescue completed. Eng 16, Truck 16 [are] 10-8 in quarters.

11/29

0417 - Eng 16 responded to investigation, odor of gas @ Amoco Service Station 4100 Blk of Glenwood Avenue. 10-23 @ 420 & 10-8 @ 0423.

Station 15

11/27

0800 - Roll call. “C” shift working. Pernell, Faison, Hinson, Jones vac, Russell, Canady, McLoud, Lester at #9.

11/28 - (tornado)

0128 [approximate] - Engine 15 to Wedgeland, house collapse.

0130 - Trk 15 to Legging Ln., gas leak.

Eng 15 & Trk 15 assisted with tornado damaged areas.

0530 - Eng 15 in station, 10-8.

0600 - Trk 15 in station, 10-8.

0730 - Eng 15 to K-Mart on Hwy #70.

0800 - “A” shift on duty - J. W. Weathersby on special vac day. W. R. Robertson back from sick leave. Robertson, Spence, Johnson, Tyner on Eng 11 - Boyette, Daniel, Christian on Trk.

0850 - Wake County Sherriff, Stony Hill, and Bay Leaf VFD and Engine 15, [Engine 11], and Trk 15 - Car 51 using Station 15 as Sector One command.

0855 - Trk 15 to 7632 Mourning Dove, Apt Fire. 10-19 by Eng 9.

0905 - 10-19 by Eng 9.

Station 14

11/27

0800 - “C” shift working. Bagwell, Ellis, Kimbrell, Perry

11/28

0118 - Shadetree Lane, structure collapse.

0129 - 10-23

0330 - 10-8

430 - 6010 Duraleigh Rd., natural gas leak

450 - 10-8

0800 - “A” shift to Town Ridge Square for standby.

0800 - “C” shift staying on duty at Station 14 to man pumper, “A” shift to command post.

1045 - “C” shift was relieved by “A” shift.

J. M. Smith, S. C. Wall, W. C. Artis, Bill Melina on duty.

11/29

0800 - “B” shift on duty. J. R. Bell at Sta.

B. M. Jones, W. R. Williams. J. R. Bell, K. J. Wood.

0845 - Handheld spot light picked up by Car 53, D/C Fowler for repair.

1721 - Eng 14, E16, T16, 6021 Shadetree Lane, apt. fire. Eng. 16, 10-23, Eng. 14, stand by.

1736 - Eng 14, 10-8.

Station 12

11/28 - “Tornado”

0248 - Knightdale Fire Department filling in at Station 12.

Engine 12 to Kmart parking lot, 6600 Glenwood Avenue, & assist with tornado damage.

0303 - Engine 12 standing by at a 10-50 to assist New Hope.

0343 - Engine 12 10-8 from the 10-50, proceeded to the Kmart parking lot.

0347 - Engine 12 10-23 Kmart parking lot. Standing by.

Engine 12 riding streets in the Lynn Rd., Sawmill, Leesville, & Six Forks areas, assisting in clearing roads and injured persons.

0800 - “A” shift on duty at Station 12 standing by - All personnel present.

0810 - “A” shift personnel proceeded to the Kmart parking lot to assist with the tornado damage via private vehicle.

1045 - Engine 12 back at Station 12 10-8.

Knightdale Fire Department relieved of duty.

1100 - “A” shift on duty. “C” shift personnel relieved.

Capt. Dent lost collar pin at tornado damage.

Station 11

11/28

0200 - Authority C1 [Fire Chief], “A” shift personnel called in.

0230 - “A” called in for duty - Tornado hit. Capt. Gardner on vac., all others present.

0230 - Capt. Eatmon, R. K. Wilson, T. Matthews, D. P. Herbert, E. L. Stoner (?), W. C. Alford, A. M. Keil reported in.

0245 - Eatmon, Wilson, Matthews, Herbert, Alford, Keil took chainsaw via private vehicles to storm scene.

0800 - A. Kiel & W. C. Alford in from storm scene. C. Stell in from #19.

1015 - Capt. Powell, W. C. Alford went to storm scene.

1030 - M. D. Allen left to go home.

1030 - E. J. Lester, D. M. Stell, & M. J. Johnson off-duty.

1100 - H. L. Tant left to go home.

1232 - W. C. Alford back at station.

1245 - Capt. J. W. Powell & C. R. Stell returned to station. Capt. Powell, C. R. Stell, W. C. Alford requested by Bill Cook of Parks Dept. to report to Sawmill Road for tree removal.

Station 10

11/28

0230 - Station 1 personnel called and instructed [our station] to call all oncoming (A-shift) personnel to report to work.

0245 - K. D. Harris reported to station.

0300 - R. D. Stanley reported to station.

0315 - D. A. Lamphere reported to station.

0330 - R. Stanley, Lamphere, Harris reported to command ctr.

0700 - Engine 10 reported to command ctr., Town Ridge shopping center.

1100 - Engine 10 personnel “A” & “C” shifts back to #10. E10, 10-8.

Station 9

11/28

0131 - Eng 9 to 3004 Legging [Ln.] gas leak

0140 - Eng 9 10-23.

0215 - Eng 9 10-8.

0230 - “A” shift reported to work by authority of Car 3 [Assistant Chief]. Reported to command at 0330. 10-19 Station 9 at 0530.

1040 - Station 9 “C” shift personnel relieved of duties by authority of C-51.

11/29

0800 - “B” shift on duty, Griffin, Bailey, Holland, Tisdale on duty.

Mini pumper to #1 for fuel, 18 gals.

0830 - Eng 9 to shop to have front left tire changed.

0945 - Eng 9 back at station.

1430 - Eng 9 to shop, replaced right rear inside tire, Eng 9 received 13 gals. Of fuel.

1530 - Eng 9 back at the station.

Station 8

11/28

0200 - All personnel on “A” & “B” shift called in for duty - Johnny Maidon in, off vacation.

0730 - E. Ball reported for duty.

0730 - “A” & “B” shift personnel went to K-Mart on Glenwood. “C” shift manning E8 & T8.

1200 - “A” shift returned to station. “C” shift off-duty.

Station 7

11/28

0118 - Eng 7 went to K-Mart, Glenwood Avenue, collapse building.

0800 - “A” shift on duty at Sta #7, except 1st CL K. R. Pearce who responded to Sta #1 then Town Ridge Shopping Center at 0200 hrs., when notified that C-3 had requested all “A” shift to report to duty, and 1st CL E. M. Martin, who was to report to Sta 1. Per C-52 last work day.

0805 - Chief Atkinson instructed “A” shift at #7 to report to fire command at Town Ridge Shopping Ctr. “A” shift 10-23 at fire command app. 0830. We manned the personnel staging area beside SR1 as instructed by C-3.

10-30 1st CL K. R. Pearce joined E-7 crew in personnel staging.

1115 - E-7 & R-7 “A” shift instructed to return to Sta #7 by C-52 (Chief R. M. King).

1200 - “A” shift at Sta 7. “C” shift dismissed.

Equip. check revealed on 10” & one 8” adjustable wrench missing off E-7 and one crowbar and needle nose pliers missing off R-7.

Station 6

11/27

0800 - “C” shift on Duty. R. D. Perry sick leave. Tuttle, Marshburn, Colbert E6. Bradford, Thomas [?], Res 6.

11/28

0200 - Farantatos, Dupree, T.C. Brown, Vassilon, Godfrey notified & reported to duty, plus David Boyette on E-13.

0122 - E-6 to Townridge Shopping Center.
P. Pearce, D. Godfrey, D. Auteri to Tower S. Center.

1100 - E-6 10-8 “C” shift off-duty. Tuttle, Marshburn, Colbert, Thomas, Bradford.

Station 5

11/28

0215 - J. D. Poole reporting for call back.

0220 - E-5 to K-Mart, Glenwood Ave., to assist Command Center.

0230 - K. R. Bailey reporting for call back.

0250 - D. L. Perry reporting for call back.

Perry w/Foam 5 to #6, picked up 3 people and reported to Creedmoor & Lynn Rd.

1108 - Eng 5 & Foam 5 in station - “C” shift personnel released.

Right rear tire on Foam 5 was punctured. M-32 changed tire, used spare.

Station 4

11/27

0800 - “C” shift working. Perry, Woodall, Parker, & Hogan on duty.

11/28

0200 - “A” shift personnel called in for emergency situation in west Raleigh.

0800 - Eng. 4 10-7 to Town Ridge Shopping Ctr., search & rescue.

1130 - “C” shift & Eng. 4 back at Station.

1300 - Eng. 4 10-8.

Station 3

11/28

0200 - Notified Dockery, Owens, Stewart to come in due to tornado. Could not contact Patterson.

0210 - Mini Three and R. J. Moore to Station One.

0230 - Scott Owens reported to Station Three. Owens riding E-3, Captain Dockery, & C. Stewart.

1530 - Eng 3 to Station 1 to pick up Mini 3.

Station 2

11/27

0800 - Roll call, “C” shift working, S. T. Eudy, C. M. Altman, A. R. Cooper - F. E. Bridges, comp time.

2100 - F. E. Bridges at work.

11/28

0200 - Capt. Eudy called in “A” shift off-duty as instructed by Car 3.

R. A. Pearce, T. N. Pearce, E. T. Beasley, & D. W. Kelly.

0330 - Eng #2 personnel taking Car #91 and M-30 to N. Raleigh to assist during disaster.

0350 - D. W. Kelly manning M-32 to command post on Glenwood Ave.

0800 - “A” shift on duty. J. E. Williams on “vac”, R. A. Pearce, E. T. Beasley, T. N. Pearce, D. W. Kelly detailed in from Eng 13. “A” shift personnel called in at 0200 hr. to assist during disaster (tornadoes).

1200 - “C” shift personnel relieved from duty.

1450 - D. W. Kelly back at Station #1 with M-31.

Station 1

11/28

0130 - Eng 13 to Station 6, to fill in.

Called in off-duty personnel, due to tornado.

1045 - Eng 13 10-8 at Station 1.

Car 51

11/27

0800 - Chief Robertson on Duty

11/28

0100 - All equipment in D-1 except E-19 dispatched to various calls resulting from tornados in our area. “A” shift personnel called in & several volunteer [fire] depts. Rendered mutual aid. Most severe damage in Lynn & Ray Rd., Six Forks, Litchford Rd. areas. Bldgs & houses collapsed, trees uprooted, power lines down.

1040 - “C” shift personnel released as they get back to stations.

Hunnicutt Sector 1 Commander

Units that assisted in search & rescue:

  1. Eng 11
  2. Engine 15
  3. Wake New Hope Fire Dept.
  4. Stony Hill Fire Dept.
  5.  Bay Leaf Fire Dept.
  6. Wake Co. Sherriff Dept.

Car 52

11/27

0800 - Chief Atkinson on duty.

11/28

0200 - “A” shift. District 2 reported to work due to tornado damages.

0800 - Chief King on duty.

11/29

0800 - Chief Sandy on duty.

0800 - SR1 10-7.

0800 - Foam Unit 5 to repair shop to get the tires fixed.

1200 - Picked up SR1.

Car 53

11/27

0800 - D/C R. Davis on duty.

0110 - Car 53 responded to a collapse structure at 5948 Shade Tree Lane, Cooper’s Pond Apt. Upon arrival, I found several building[s] severely damaged by a tornado that touched down earlier. Command position was established and personnel were assigned to each flatten[ed] structure. The flatten[ed] structure will be referred to as “A” & “B”. The apartment manager was on the scene, with her assistance and the assistance of many of the residents, we were able to account for all occupants. One resident was trapped under the rubble in Bldg. “A”. He was rescued. He suffered minor injuries and was transported by EMS. Part of Bldg “B”’s structure was standing with people trapped on the 3rd floor. Their condition was not threaten[ed] to a great extent initially. They were told that they would be rescued after the situation was stabilized. They were rescued safely.

Car 53 returned to command post SR1 and assisted with searching & rescue.

11/28

0800 - D/C Beasley on duty. Capt. Barnett back sv, myself, and Eng 14 crew (A) reported to command at K-Mart, Glenwood. Stayed with SR1 until 1300 hrs. All companies 10-8. Station 17 damaged.

To City Manager’s office, gave info. Also Asst. City Manager was talked to [at] 1600 hours. Picked up batteries for 53 spare. Car 53 to shop, fixed 3 flat tires.

11/29

0800 - D/C Fowler on duty. Took Car 4 “53” in for new tires. Took car in for windshield repair. Told to bring back next week. Engine 17 10-7, replaced with reserve.

News & Observer Graphic

This graphic was published as part of a twentieth anniversary story on November 26, 1988.


Sources


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