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Boulder-area residents express mixed feelings about how NCAR fire evacuation notices went out

By Marissa Armas

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    BOULDER, Colorado (KCNC) — It was nerve-wracking 24 hours for Table Mesa south resident Gilad Gordon.

“You see that ridge of pine trees, just very shortly above it, those were on fire yesterday as I was coming out of the house,” said Gordon on Sunday.

At around 5 p.m. on Sunday Gordon was finally allowed to return back to his home after being one of the first to receive an emergency alert to evacuate the area. His home is located about 300 yards away from the NCAR Fire burn scar.

“I thought that the police information was very, very helpful and was great,” Gordon said. “I got it on my cellphone obviously, and it was repeated, and it came through probably every 10 minutes for an hour, hour and a half. “

Evacuation notices went out to about 20,000 people using two different notification systems. Everbridge, which focuses on sending alerts to landlines and wireless subscribers, and the Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEA, that uses cell phone towers to ping anyone who may be near the area.

“It did get confusing when people who live a couple blocks away said that they got it first, and I got it a couple minutes later,” said Angelique Fathy, another south Boulder resident.

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management received several complaints from people outside of the evacuation zone, who also received these alerts, some saying the scope was too broad.

“When you go into the nuances of folks wondering why they didn’t get it and why somebody else did, there are lots of variables that go into that,” said Marya Washburn, a spokesperson with Boulder Fire Rescue.

In a statement released on Sunday, the office said this spillover is a well-known issue but right now it’s hard to avoid.

“So it will also go broader because of the way it works in cellphone towers,” Washburn said.

But for residents like Gordon he’d rather more people get the alerts than not enough.

“We’d rather be over notified, than under notified,” he said.

The office of emergency management said that if you’re signed up for these notifications but didn’t receive them, you may have to check in with your cellphone carrier.

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