Officials say warning system operated well during Richmond's Sims Metal fire

(KGO-TV)

Contra Costa County sheriff's officials said that the community warning system functioned properly during a fire Tuesday at a metal shop in Richmond, despite critical comments by the city's mayor.

"In yesterday's incident, the CWS worked as designed - alerts were sent once all the information was received from the requesting agency," Assistant Sheriff Mark Williams said in a statement.

"Mayor Butt's statement that it took an hour to get out the first alert after receiving the necessary information from Richmond Fire is totally inaccurate, misleading and presumptuous."

Mayor Butt was not immediately available for comment Friday morning.

RELATED: Richmond mayor upset with emergency alert process during Sims Metal fire


Sheriff's officials said the warning system is meant to ensure that the public gets emergency alerts completely and as quickly as possible once sheriff's officials receive the necessary information from the requesting agency.

Sheriff's officials said operators of the warning system received all the necessary information to issue an alert at 5:55 p.m. and there was no request to activate the sirens.

The first alert was sent at 6:08 p.m. through the Telephone Emergency Notification System, which includes phone, text and email alerts.


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The alert was also posted on social media and websites.

Sheriff's officials said as the fire continued to burn and produce smoke and the winds shifted, the shelter-in-place area had to be expanded.

Operators of the warning system worked to get the information to additional shelter-in-place areas.

A second alert went out at 6:44 p.m. and a third at 7:57 p.m. and the last at 8:50 p.m.

The alerts went out at the request of the Richmond Fire Department and the Contra Costa Hazardous Materials Programs.

Sheriff's officials said as the situation stabilized, no expansion of the shelter-in-place area was needed and a map that included all the affected areas was posted on the sheriff's office website and on his office's Facebook page and released to the news media.

Sheriff's officials encourage all county residents to sign up for alerts at www.cococws.us and to follow the warning system on Twitter CoCoCWS and Facebook at CoCoCWS.


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