Watch CBS News

Improvements made to county-wide alert and warning systems in Colorado since Marshall Fire

Improvements made to county-wide alert and warning systems since Marshall Fire
Improvements made to county-wide alert and warning systems since Marshall Fire 02:42

Improvements are being made to alert systems used to warn Coloradans of impending wildfires.

It was nearly a year and a half ago the Marshall Fire became the most destructive wildfire in state history. Hundreds of homes were destroyed in Boulder County, along with two people dying. The fire forced agencies to make a number of improvements to their emergency system including updates to the Everbridge Alert System which is used to send emergency alerts to community members. It's something one Louisville resident, Tawnya Somauroo, is thankful for after surviving the fire.

"It is surreal, I still can't believe what happened to us," said Somauroo, standing in front of her house that is now being rebuilt.

She's also one of the thousands in Louisville who did not receive an emergency alert that day. Others who did get the alert received it one hour after the fire started.

"I just had this naive expectation that they would always be ready with evacuation notices and kind of be all-knowing of what was happening and we would be able to get out a little sooner than we did," Somauroo said.


Instead, she took matters into her own hands that day in her neighborhood by informing neighbors of the fire.

"It was a shock to me that those things weren't in place at the time," Somauroo added.

The first alert was sent to 215 people, 42 minutes after the wildfire began.

Agencies have made improvements to county-wide alert and warning systems, which includes updating Everbridge, the software used to send emergency alerts. Community members can sign up for those alerts through

The website will have alerts from all the dispatch centers in the county, including full details of emergencies along with an interactive map.

Boulder County law and fire agencies have also developed consistent policies and practices for launching alerts regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.

It's changes residents like Somauroo are thankful for.

"So, something terrible and unthinkable happened here, but shouldn't we be the first in our class for moving forward being the most prepared and most resilient? We deserve that, our whole community deserves that," Somauroo added.

The county released a statement addressing the additional improvements of the alert system saying:

The ReachWell translation app is now available to download and receive emergency alerts in over 100 languages/dialects. Alerts are automatically sent to the app, where users can access the content in their preferred language. Alerts are received by opting into a unique ReachWell group and do not require sharing your location. This application will deliver every notification sent from the Boulder County Communications, Boulder Police and Fire Communications, and Longmont Emergency Communications. Google Translate is available on all web pages. Click on the drop-down menu, "Select Language" in upper right-hand corner of website to select your preferred language. All Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) messages will be translated for community members and visitors that set their mobile device preferred language to Spanish.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.