North Raleigh Tornado - November 28, 1988
Last updated: August 23, 2017
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.
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.
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
Number of personnel - Approximately 225
Number of units:
Number of gallons of fuel - 638
Mileage of all equipment - 1,550
Number of overtime hours - Approximately 1443.75
[ Their information was not included in the report. ]
Wake County Fire Units and Personnel
*Indicates volunteer [fire department] that the city of Raleigh contracts with.
Wake County EMS/Rescue [Squad] Units
Wake County Sheriff's Department
[ 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
[ 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:
Other Outside EMS/Rescue Squad Units
Gasoline/Diesel Used Other Than Raleigh
[ 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. ]
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.
News & Observer Photos
Raleigh Fire Departments units that responded included:
Plus call back personnel, many of whom responded to the scene in personal vehicles.
Coverage at Raleigh fire stations included:
Raleigh units that did not respond:
Log Book Entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
0800 - Roll call. “A” shift on duty.
1200 - Eng 17 returned from shop and reserve unit sent back to shop.
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.
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.
0417 - Eng 16 responded to investigation, odor of gas @ Amoco Service Station 4100 Blk of Glenwood Avenue. 10-23 @ 420 & 10-8 @ 0423.
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.
0800 - “C” shift working. Bagwell, Ellis, Kimbrell, Perry
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
0800 - “C” shift on Duty. R. D. Perry sick leave. Tuttle, Marshburn, Colbert E6. Bradford, Thomas [?], Res 6.
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.
1100 - E-6 10-8 “C” shift off-duty. Tuttle, Marshburn, Colbert, Thomas, Bradford.
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.
0800 - “C” shift working. Perry, Woodall, Parker, & Hogan on duty.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
0800 - Chief Robertson on Duty
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:
0800 - Chief Atkinson on duty.
0200 - “A” shift. District 2 reported to work due to tornado damages.
0800 - Chief King on duty.
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.
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.
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.
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.