Los Angeles County residents awoke Saturday to a public safety alert advising Glendale residents to evacuate in what was later revealed to be an evacuation drill.
The mass notification alert advised that Chevy Chase Canyon residents to safely evacuate to the parking lot of Glendale Community College. But the city of Glendale tweeted that it was conducting an evacuation exercise in the area.
The city later confirmed that the message was an error and sent a follow up notification to residents to disregard the message.
The city said in a statement, “The additional alerts sent to LA County residents is due to an error in the tech used to send out the second message.”
The evacuation drill, according to officials, is necessary to prepare residents in the area which has nearly 1,900 structures and 5,500 residents and is marked by steep hillsides.
However, the notification ended up on millions of phones across the Southland, prompting a brief moment of panic for residents.
“We didn’t know if there was a fire or what, there wasn’t really any info,” said Kat Leon and Erica Andreozzi, who both live in Echo Park, while speaking with CBS reporters in the aftermath of the panic.
They were more than relieved to hear that it ended up being nothing, but also glad that a system is in place in the case of a real emergency.
“There was little but of a panic mode but you never know,” Andreozzi continued. “It is fire season and there was recently that fire in Orange County, so it is alarming to receive messages like, that, it’s scary.”
Ken Marefat, who lives in Rancho Palos Verdes, recalled a worried phone call from his daughter in Irvine.
“She called saying, ‘Are you ok? Do I need to drop everything and come there immediately?'” he said.
The city said it was working with its partners to investigate the glitch in the messaging software.
In the interim, it stressed the importance of the drill, especially in light of recent events in Laguna Niguel, where the Coastal fire still burns.
“As we saw last week in Laguna Niguel, our fire environment in Southern California is prime for another potentially active fire season. Ensuring the community is prepared is key to keeping our residents safe,” said Lanzas, who apologized to anyone negatively affected by the earlier text alert.