Wildfires that killed nine people in a remote Northern California county last month also crippled land lines, cell phones and internet service, the local sheriff said Thursday, saying the disaster shows old-fashioned sirens and ham radios have a place in emergencies.
Failures of modern technology can cost "all connectivity to the world," Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said at a news conference. When lives are at stake, "we need to notify people immediately that this is a real disaster, we need to get out of here."
Nine of the 43 people who died in the devastating Northern California wildfires that began Oct. 8 were in Mendocino County, in an area called Redwood Valley, although other valleys and areas also burned in the county at the same time.
The Los Angeles Times, citing interviews and a review of dispatch calls, reported Monday that the county appears to have waited more than an hour after fire was first reported in Redwood Valley to order evacuations there. The report said numerous residents called 911 to report that they were trapped.
Allman did not specifically address the report Thursday or whether the communications failures slowed evacuation efforts.