Sonoma County Did Not Use Wireless Emergency Alert in Wildfire

Wildfire damage has claimed more than 1,500 homes so far in Santa Rosa, Calif. and Sonoma and Napa counties. wildfire victims
Image: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Sonoma County did not use the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system in order to better target emergency alerts to avoid unnecessary evacuations and cause traffic congestion.


One of the California counties hard hit by wildfires this week chose not to use one type of emergency alert service to warn residents of possible danger. Spokeswoman Jennifer Larocque says Sonoma County considered but did not use the Wireless Emergency Alert which sends a widespread message to cell phones and is sometimes likened to an Amber Alert.

Larocque says because of its broad reach officials concluded the message could panic people who were not in danger and trigger unnecessary evacuations that would snarl traffic and delay emergency vehicles.

Sonoma County did use another emergency alert service that texted thousands of warnings to residents to flee Sunday night. However, nearly 80 cellphone towers were knocked out or badly damaged.

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