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‘There is NO lahar’: Volcano warning was false alarm


‘There is NO lahar’: Volcano warning was false alarm

May 24, 2023 | 8:00 pm ET
By Laurel Demkovich
‘There is NO lahar’: Puyallup volcano warning was false alarm
Mount Rainier (Laurel Demkovich/Washington State Standard)

Mount Rainier did not erupt on Wednesday morning, but Puyallup residents might have thought it did when a lahar siren rang out downtown around 10 a.m.

Thirty minutes after the siren went off, officials took to Twitter to let residents know it was a false alarm. A destructive slurry of mountain debris was not rushing toward them. 

An old lahar siren at a downtown fire station was accidentally set off, Puyallup spokesman Eric Johnson wrote in an email. The police department quickly turned it off.

“We apologize for any confusion or concern this has caused for the community,” the Puyallup Police Department tweeted

The city and county operate sirens to alert citizens when they need to evacuate to higher ground if there is “imminent danger” of a lahar flow from volcanic activity. During a real event, according to the county website, the sirens would sound until the batteries die—or until they are destroyed. 

The siren that went off Wednesday was part of an old system, Johnson said. It is no longer connected to a power source, and the Puyallup Police Department is working to completely remove it from the fire station. 

It was not part of a new system of sirens operated by the county emergency management department. That system of 42 sirens is tested the first Monday of every month.

“There is NO lahar, no drill, and no threat to public safety,” the county tweeted Wednesday.

The Puyallup Police Department urged residents to always be prepared for a real event by signing up for the city’s emergency notifications and to follow guidance from the city’s emergency department.