Not quite SWL, but I was listening to my scanner one night when I lived in So. Calif., & there was a bad Santa Ana windstorm. There was a dispatch of a fire engine to a brush fire by Los Angeles County Fire Dept.'s Valley Division:Fire Engine 101:"101 at scene, 50 acres of brush, houses threatened. OK Valley, send us everything you've got!"
LACoFD:"Valley is stripped of all units."
The was another major fire burning at the time in another part of LA County, so no other units nearby to respond. Whereupon, the LACoFD had to ask other Fire agencies for help. 6 homes were destroyed, and 6 other homes were damaged.
On Chernobyl: Yes, I heard about that one radio report of hundreds of deaths. I know the reactor exploded early Saturday their time, but it was not announced to the world until Sweden had to use Diplomatic channels, after they found elevated radiation at one of their reactors. Sweden said they knew it was not their reactor, so what happened? When the Soviets got back to the Swedes after a number of hours, they said, yes, there's been an accident, then they also asked (in plain English) "Have any ideas how to fight a graphite fire?"
This last part was picked up in international news. Now, I'm not a reactor expert, but I knew enough about them that if the graphite in a reactor was burning, then they were in deep manure at that point. The first official Soviet announcements had very little detail.