Phone alert by Glendale officials sent to SoCal residents was only a drill — but caused brief panic

It was only a drill.

But possibly millions in Southern California got an alert at about 9:10 a.m. Saturday, May 14, on their smartphones blaring with a message that looked like the real deal. It instructed residents in Chevy Chase Canyon, near Glendale, to evacuate immediately and head to an evacuation site at in Glendale Community College’s Parking Lot B.

No mention with the alert that it was a drill.

But it was.

“Glendale fire and police (agencies) planned for a fire drill exercise this morning,” police Sgt. Shawn Milligan said. “It was mistakenly sent out not described as a drill, and we’re working to remedy.”

Also, why did Southern California residents well outside the Glendale area get the alert?

It landed on phones in Long Beach, Downey, Temple City, the San Fernando Valley, San Pedro — and likely in many other communities as well.

Glendale fire officials had tweeted Thursday, May 12, that they had planned the drill for 9 a.m. Saturday. And about 20 minutes before the drill took place, the city of Glendale sent out a tweet with that information.

But no further warnings were sent out.

And how many follow those accounts?

Chevy Chase Canyon Residents, let’s prepare for an emergency together! Join us this Saturday May 14 @ 9 am! Watch this short video for additional details! @MyGlendale

Chevy Chase Canyon Evacuation Drill https://t.co/7Ly3OAgNZA via @YouTube

— Glendale Fire Department CA (@GlendaleFireCA) May 12, 2022

THIS IS A DRILL: #MyGlendale is conducting an evacuation exercise in Chevy Chase Canyon. For those who live in the Chevy Chase Canyon: Safely evacuate your home and proceed to the evacuation site located at the Glendale Community College Parking Lot B: https://t.co/zjTZ6CMN6E

— City of Glendale, CA (@MyGlendale) May 14, 2022

By 9:30 a.m. the city’s tweet already had received nearly 700 replies, almost all of them critical because of the lack of advanced notice and no mention in the alert of it being a drill.

Just after 9:30 a.m., a second alert went out with a message to disregard the evacuation message.

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