False alarm: Panic ensues after Tolt Dam failure alert activated by mistake

A Tolt Dam failure alert sent residents of Carnation into panic mode Tuesday as loud sirens filled the air and firetrucks rolled through area farms and told people to evacuate. Turns out, it was a false alarm. 

Sgt. Ryan Abbott with the King County Sheriff's Office confirmed that the sirens sounded in error. Another official said the sirens went off for about 30 minutes before they were turned off. 

A Q13 viewer called the news station and said fire trucks arrived at Remlinger Farms, with firefighters telling people to evacuate before learning it was a false alarm. 

According to the Seattle Public Utilities website, the city of Seattle owns and operates the Tolt Reservoir and Dams, located 16 miles upstream from the City of Carnation on the South Fork Tolt River.

There are pre-recorded sirens that will play during a local emergency, the website says, including: 

  • Test message: "This is a test of the Tolt Dam Warning System. This is only a test."
  • Dam failure: The Tolt Dam has failed. Evacuate the area immediately."
  • All clear: "It is safe to return. The dam is secure."
  • Community emergency: "A community emergency has developed, please stay in your home until further advised.”