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It Was Only A Drill — Emergency Alert Startles Southern California Residents

A text message reads Public Safety Alert Chevy Chase canyon residents safely evacuate your home and proceed to the evacuation site located at the Glendar Community College Parking Lot B
Cell phones throughout the area received this text alert Saturday morning.
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It was a drill. It was only a drill.

Residents throughout the area were startled at 9 a.m. today when their cell phones blared an emergency text that urged Chevy Chase Canyon residents to "safely evacuate your home and proceed to the evacuation site located at the Glendale Community College Parking Lot B."

About 40 minutes later, the city of Glendale issued a correction retracting the alert. In a statement issued later, it attributed the false alarm to a software error.

A text message reads Emergency Alerts Public Safety Alert Disregard evacuation for Chevy Chase Canyon. Training exercise only.
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"On Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 9:00 am, the City of Glendale conducted a planned evacuation exercise in coordination with the Chevy Chase Canyon Association," the statement read. "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."

The drill was planned to help residents and first responders prepare in the case of an actual emergency.

The statement included an apology "to anyone negatively affected by today’s message" from Glendale fire chief and deputy city manager Silvio Lanzas.

The statement said Lanzas "stressed that although the error in the message overshadowed the exercise itself, the importance of why we conduct these drills cannot be overstated."

Lanzas later said by phone that the alert was supposed to go to canyon residents only, but a "complication" in the mapping system sent it countywide.

"I personally looked at the message that actually was crafted by the the author and it did say in the header, 'This is a drill,'" he said. "However, that did not go out as part of the message."

Lanzas also said says drills are meant to identify errors in the system. "We would rather make these mistakes today when there's no smoke in the sky," he said. "There's no mass chaos from people trying to evacuate the canyon."

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Updated May 14, 2022 at 2:03 PM PDT
This story was updated to include an interview with Glendale Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas.