Quantcast

Communication problems plague California as 22 large fires rage - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Communication problems plague California as 22 large fires rage on

Posted: Updated:

At least 23 people have been killed in the wildfires ravaging California. It's estimated that 3,500 homes and business have been destroyed so far as 8,000 firefighters work to control the 22 large fires that continue to burn across the state. There are still 285 missing persons reports filed, but officials believe many of those could be due to communication issues.

California Highway Patrol went door to door in parts of Sonoma County Wednesday night strongly advising people to leave their homes.

Some residents say a lack of communication is what prevented them from knowing the fire was coming closer, reports CBS News' Mireya Villarreal from Santa Rosa, one of the hardest hit areas. 

"It's devastating. It literally looks like a bomb went off," said Heather Bowers. When she saw ash raining down in her front yard Sunday night, she became the neighborhood emergency alert system.

"They were like, 'what's going on?' I'm like, 'you need to pack your stuff up and get out,'" Bowers said. 
 
Bowers' mother and two brothers lost their homes, her mother escaping with only the clothes she was wearing.

Many people in the danger zones were caught by surprise and needed help getting out.

"Communication problems in general have been difficult," said Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordono. He said alerts were sent out, but admits that not everyone would have received them.

"We still have systems that will call landlines for blocks of area and it will call all of those houses. But now, without landlines, if you do not sign your cellphone up, you don't get that service," Giordano said.

The fires knocked out 77 cell phone towers but now only 13 are down. In those cases, Giordano says, people should sign up for Nixel, a service used by emergency responders that can send alerts over Wi-Fi.

Asked if there is a backup system or a plan for one, Giordano said it was down to the news media: "We want people to listen to their radio, pay attention to their cell phone, get on the internet, go to the web pages. Use them all, so you don't miss the pieces."

CBS News spoke with a family whose aunt was missing since Sunday. A hotel employee watching our story five towns away recognized her and helped us reunite that family.

Nixel told "CBS This Morning" it has already delivered more than four million text and messages since the fires began. 

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

WEATHER
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Colorado student murdered after night out celebrating birthday

    Colorado student murdered after night out celebrating birthday

    Friday, October 20 2017 10:57 PM EDT2017-10-21 02:57:11 GMT
    Savannah McNealySavannah McNealy

    FORT COLLINS, COLO. – The Larimer County Coroner’s Office identified the three people killed in Thursday morning’s shooting near Colorado State University.

    FORT COLLINS, COLO. – The Larimer County Coroner’s Office identified the three people killed in Thursday morning’s shooting near Colorado State University.

  • update

    Man accused of killing twin brother in eastern Montana found dead

    Man accused of killing twin brother in eastern Montana found dead

    Friday, October 20 2017 8:44 PM EDT2017-10-21 00:44:45 GMT
    Eric Carlson has been found dead of an apparent suicide (Newell Broadcasting Corp.)Eric Carlson has been found dead of an apparent suicide (Newell Broadcasting Corp.)

    Authorities in eastern Montana said Friday that the man accused of killing his twin brother on Thursday has been found dead of an apparent suicide.

    Authorities in eastern Montana said Friday that the man accused of killing his twin brother on Thursday has been found dead of an apparent suicide.

  • Man arrested in Glendive on suspicion of murdering his father

    Man arrested in Glendive on suspicion of murdering his father

    Saturday, October 21 2017 12:25 AM EDT2017-10-21 04:25:39 GMT

    HELENA - A 44-year-old man was arrested Friday on suspicion of the Oct. 16 murder of his father in Glendive, Dawson County Deputy Attorney Bret Irigoin announced.

    HELENA - A 44-year-old man was arrested Friday on suspicion of the Oct. 16 murder of his father in Glendive, Dawson County Deputy Attorney Bret Irigoin announced.

Powered by Frankly

© KTVQ.com 2017, KTVQ.com
A CORDILLERA COMMUNICATIONS Station
All rights reserved
Privacy Policy, | Terms of Service, and Ad Choices

Can't find something?