This rural Idaho county is working to modernize the way we get wildfire warnings

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jun 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-23 20:32:49-04

Fire season is here, and now it's easier than ever to get a warning to residents.

Systems that alert your cell phone are statewide, and some counties, like Owyhee County, have gone even further to protect residents and coordinate help.

When fire is moving in, time is of the essence, so cell phone alerts are the standard. Four years ago, Owyhee County signed up for Alert Sense, a private company that lets dispatchers send messages directly to cell phones in specific areas that could be facing an emergency--like wildfires.

Alert Sense first connects with the Idaho Officer of Emergency Management via internet, which in tern uses a system called I-PAWS to send the message to every phone in the designated area.

Officials say, it saves lives. I-PAWS is slowly superseding the old emergency broadcast system--but if you know someone who doesn't use a cell phone, make sure they get the warning too.