Emergency alert system failed many in Sonoma, Napa

Charred debris near Highway 128 and Bennet Lane in Calistoga. Photo/Calfire

By Paige St. John, Dakota Smith, Hailey Branson-Potts and Joy Resmovits, Los Angeles Times
The distress calls crackled over the Napa County sheriff’s dispatch radio in a rapid staccato late Sunday as flames sped toward residents on Atlas Peak Road.

“Parents trapped in garage,” an officer called in to the central dispatcher. Then: “The fire is moving quickly through here.”

Two minutes later, the dispatcher sent someone to another house on the same road: “Two people trapped.”

The dispatch calls, which began pouring out after 10:30pm, less than an hour after the fire was first reported, provide a harrowing narrative of the frantic, confusing efforts to rescue people from the Atlas Peak fire, which by Tuesday had burned 25,000 acres and destroyed more than 100 structures.

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