Golden Fire evac alert doesn’t apply in parts of Oregon far from the fire

SALEM, Ore. (KGW) — A large number of Oregonians were left confused over the weekend after they saw or heard an emergency alert on TV or radio urging them to evacuate due to the Golden Fire, which is currently burning east of Klamath Falls.

The fire has spread rapidly to more than 2,500 acres, destroying 43 homes as of Tuesday, and has indeed prompted Level 3 “Go Now” evacuation orders, but some of the people who saw the alert were elsewhere in the state, far away from the fire.


Does the evacuation order apply to everyone who saw it?



This is false.

No, the evacuation order does not apply in many of the places where it was viewed or heard.

The order was genuine, but it was only intended to be broadcast in Klamath County. An operator error caused it to be broadcast statewide.


The Golden Fire did cause Level 3 evacuation zones to be put in place over the weekend, and they’re still partially in place. Up-to-date information about those orders can be found on the Klamath County Facebook page as well as a dedicated page created specifically for updates on the wildfire. Information can be also found though the national InciWeb system, and the Pacific Northwest Interagency Coordination Center website.

Those resources all confirm that the Golden Fire Level 3 evacuation order is — and always was — limited to a specific area near the fire, not statewide. Some parts of the zone have been downgraded to Level 2 since Saturday, although other parts remain at Level 3.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management posted messages to social media on Saturday explaining that the evacuation notice that had been sent out earlier that evening was accidentally broadcast statewide due to an operator error. The agency apologized for the confusion and said it had fixed the system to avoid a repeat of the problem.

Oregon’s Emergency Alert System sends out warning notices via radio and broadcast TV, as well as through cable systems and satellite radio, according to OEM. It’s separate from the Wireless Emergency Alert system, which sends notifications to mobile phones.

The evacuation notice was sent to Klamath County using both systems, but the phone alert system worked as intended, which is why there were no reports of people elsewhere in the state receiving erroneous phone messages. However, according to an OEM Facebook post, the system for radio and TV alerts includes a checkbox to specify a geolocation, and the person drafting the alert neglected to check the box, resulting in the broadcast going out statewide.

OEM said it also learned that some broadcasters used a truncated version of the message due to a configuration problem in their systems, resulting in display text that erroneously said “Civil Authorities have issued an Evacuation Immediate for All of Oregon.” The agency said it was working to address the issue.

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