The emergency alert sent out Saturday morning started many in Los Angeles County when it hit their smart phones with a loud alarm and vibration.
“Chevy Chase Canyon residents safely evacuate your home and proceed to evacuation site located at Glendale Community College Parking Lot B.”
It’s unclear how many got the alert, but it was received by people as far away as Long Beach and West Covina.
But it turned out there was no emergency. The alert was sent out in error as part of a preplanned safety drill.
A few minutes later, Glendale sent out a follow up tweet: “Disregard safety alert for Chevy Chase Canyon. Training exercise only.”
Then city officials issued the following statement: “The city conducted a planned evacuation exercise in coordination with the Chevy Chase Canyon Association. Due to a glitch in the messaging software, incorrect messaging was distributed throughout Los Angeles County. The City is working with our partners to investigate.”
Other agencies reached out to alarmed residents via Twitter: “If you received this text alert, be advised this was only A DRILL. No action required,” Pasadena said on Twitter.
Glendale Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas apologized to anyone who was negatively affected by today’s message and stressed that although the error in the message overshadowed the exercise itself, “the importance of why we conduct these drills cannot be overstated.
“As we saw last week in Laguna Niguel, our fire environment in Southern California is prime for another potentially active Fire Season,” Lanzas said. “Ensuring the community is prepared is key to keeping our residents safe.”
Emergency alerts on phones can provide lifesaving guidance for fires, floods and other disasters. But they can also go wrong. In 2018, a false alarm warning of an incoming missile was triggered by a government employee in Hawaii who got confused during an unplanned drill and thought the state was really under attack.
On Saturday morning, many were wondering what went wrong in Glendale.
“It would have been less upsetting to have woken up on fire than getting these text messages here in Pomona, great job,” one person tweeted to Glendale officials.