Sheriff’s Office Says ‘Code Red’ Warning System Successful after Swedes Fire

OROVILLE -- The Butte County Sheriff's Office says it was able to activate its "Code Red" emergency alert system this weekend more successfully than it did during the Camp Fire that killed over 80 people last November.

Evacuations were ordered after the Swedes Fire burned out of control eventually scorching 400 acres and destroying two buildings.

Sheriff's office spokeswoman Megan McMann said 221 emails, 809 phone calls and 225 text messages were sent to targeted residents in the vicinity of the fire.

"People have commented that they did receive the messages, so we're happy about that," she said.

It could be that more residents in rural areas are more sensitive to emergency alerts after numerous catastrophic wildfires in Northern California.

In addition, sheriff's units used the new siren alert system to audibly sound warnings in case people didn't have the use of cell phones or landlines.

It also activated its social media resources to give residents up to date information, including when the danger had passed and the evacuation was lifted.

The "Code Red" system was in operation during the Camp Fire as well, but cell towers and landlines were left useless in many areas and many residents didn't get evacuations alerts.

The sheriff's office says no system is 100% foolproof, but it says it will continue to tweak the system to use as many communications tools it can to get warnings to residents.

One drawback is that residents have to sign up for to get "Code Red" alerts, but the office says that's easily done online.

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