Glendale Police headquarters
Glendale Police Headquarters. Courtesy of the department

An emergency alert sent out by the city of Glendale Saturday telling residents of Chevy Chase Canyon to evacuate was received on cell phones across the Southland, prompting fear and confusion before officials clarified that it was only a drill.

“Chevy Chase Canyon residents safely evacuate your home and proceed to evacuation site located at Glendale Community College Parking Lot B,” read the message, which went out shortly before 9 a.m.

The city then sent the following alert and tweet at 9 a.m.:

“THIS IS A DRILL: #MyGlendale is conducting an evacuation exercise in Chevy Chase Canyon. For those who live in the Chevy Chase Canyon: Safely evacuate your home and proceed to the evacuation site located at the Glendale Community College Parking Lot B.”

Officials later said the alert was not supposed to be distributed to such a wide area.

“Due to a glitch in the messaging software, incorrect messaging was distributed throughout Los Angeles County. The City is working with our partners to investigate,” a city statement said.

The original alert was also received on some cell phones in Orange County.

The drill had been planned for 8:30 a.m. by the Glendale Fire Department and Chevy Chase Canyon Estates Association. Officials said the canyon has nearly 1,900 structures and 5,500 residents, and is marked by steep hillsides necessitating preparation for an evacuation in the event of a fire or other emergency.

The alert came at a particularly sensitive time in the Southland, with hot, dry weather driving up fire danger this weekend and a 200-acre blaze still raging in Laguna Niguel in neighboring Orange County, where 20 homes have been destroyed.

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