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Feb 28, 2013 12:33 AM by Eric Ross

New details: Emergency alert system failed during Waldo Canyon Fire

News 5 is learning new details into the failure of the Waldo Canyon Fire emergency notification system.

Wednesday, El Paso-Teller County E911 released an in-depth report explaining what went wrong and addressing several unanswered questions.

The fire destroyed nearly 350 homes and took the lives of two residents. It was a tragedy that kept emergency officials busy for weeks.

"The 9-1-1 system worked flawlessly," Jim Grayson with El Paso-Teller County E911 said. "People were able to report emergencies and information regarding the fire."

However, not everything went as planned. Outlined in the official report shows flaws in the County's emergency notification system that was supposed to provide voice calls and text messages to those in the danger zone.

"The issues there resulted in a fair percentage of the calls being unsuccessful," Grayson said.

Still unclear as to how many residents were left in the dark, it's estimated there could have been tens of thousands of folks who never got the alerts because the network was clogged.

"It (the alert system) has been used in the past to make 2,000 to 5,000 notifications at a time," Grayson said.

During the fire, Grayson says more than 118,000 notifications were trying to be sent out.

This allegedly caused the system to shut down.

News 5 learned Wednesday the two victims killed in the fire didn't receive any emergency alerts.

Information relating to their telephone carrier is not being released, but we're told the couple was not signed up for alerts.

 Grayson adds that not all phone systems are set up to receive emergency notifications.

If you have a wireless phone or use a VOIP system, you will need to subscribe online to receive alerts.

Registration can be done through the internet by going to www.elpasoteller911.org

 

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