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An immediate evacuation notice from the Emergency Alert System that interrupted regular TV programming in the Los Angeles area Wednesday, telling the entirety of LA County and the “Eastern North Pacific Ocean” area to evacuate due to a fire was sent in “error” by Los Angeles County, the Ventura County Sheriff said.
However, the LA County’s Office of Emergency Management told Fox News Digital the message was “properly formatted” and should not have “triggered an EAS evacuation” but it didn’t have an immediate answer for the “root causes” of the incident.
The erroneous alert, which repeated “Eastern North Pacific” a dozen times, said, “A civil authority has issued an IMMEDIATE EVACUATION NOTICE for the following counties or areas: Eastern North Pacific Ocean; Eastern North Pacific Ocean; Port Conception to Guadalupe Island, Eastern North Pacific; Los Angeles, CA; Eastern North Pacific Ocean; Eastern North Pacific Ocean; Eastern North Pacific Ocean; Eastern North Pacific Ocean; Eastern North Pacific Ocean; Eastern North Pacific Ocean; Eastern North Pacific Ocean; Eastern North Pacific Ocean; Eastern North Pacific Ocean; at 5:08 PM on AUG 31, 2022 Effective until 8:08 PM.”
The Office of Emergency Management said in a statement to Fox News Digital: “The National Weather Service (NWS) Los Angeles/Oxnard transmitted a Non-Weather Emergency Message (NWEM) via National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrator (NOAA) Weather Radio on behalf of the County of Los Angeles per the request of Los Angeles County Fire officials to support Evacuation notifications related to the Route Fire, a brush fire in the Castaic area.”
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The agency said the alert was “properly formatted for dissemination via Weather radio” in the target area through “close coordination” between the county and NWS and “worked as advertised.”
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It added that it had confirmed with NWS Los Angeles that the alert was “correctly configured and should not have triggered” an Emergency Alert System evacuation.
The statement further said, “We cannot comment on broadcaster configuration of EAS receivers and welcome further engagement with local broadcasters and Los Angeles County FCC Local Emergency Communications Committee to find root causes of this incident.”
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Soon after the alert went out, the Ventura County Sheriff tweeted: “The evacuation notice that was received by some Ventura County Residents on television was sent in error by the County of Los Angeles. There is no threat to Ventura County at this time and no need for residents to evacuate.”
The alert was connected to the Route Fire in Castaic, California, in northwestern Los Angeles County, which quickly grew to more than 4,000 acres by Wednesday evening amid triple-digit temperatures and forced legitimate mandatory evacuations in the area.
The Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management said on social media Wednesday afternoon that mandatory evacuations were in effect: “Paradise Ranch Estates Mobile Park, to include: Paradise Estates and all structures south of Templin Highway along Upper Ridge Route Rd, are advised to evacuate north towards Gorman.”
The Santa Clarita County Sheriff also tweeted at 6:30 pm PT that evacuations were in effect for “NORTH OF LAKE HUGHES ROAD SOUTH OF TEMPLIN HIGHWAY (includes Paradise Ranch Mobile Estates) EAST OF 5 FWY WEST OF CASTAIC LAGOON.”
The Interstate 5 freeway was shut down in the area as the fire spread.
The TV alert left people on social media concerned. “wtf did anyone else just see this on their cable teevee?” one person tweeted, adding, “an ‘immediate evacuation notice’ for the entire city of Los Angeles??? And the ‘Eastern North Pacific Ocean?’ Somebody f—ed up somewhere.”
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Another person said it reminded them of the 2018 incident in which the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency sent out a false alert to cell phones in the state that said: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
The agency later said it was a human error that happened when an employee hit “live alert” rather than “test alert” during a readiness test.