Fire text alert sent to 12 million Californians

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) A text alert about dangerous fire weather conditions that was sent to 12 million Southern Californians in seven counties was the widest ever issued by the state Office of Emergency Services.

Winds early Thursday turned out not to be as dire as predicted, but Emergency Service Deputy Director Kelly Huston says the office erred on the side of caution because conditions were similar to those that led to 44 deaths in fires that broke out across Northern California on Oct. 8.

Huston says he would rather be criticized for potentially annoying someone than for not delivering a critical alert.

Some Northern Californians complained they never received evacuation alerts as the firestorms developed, and state lawmakers on Thursday announced plans to introduce legislation establishing statewide emergency alert protocols.