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Malfunction causes sirens to blare in west Columbia for nearly 30 minutes overnight

The Boone County Office of Emergency Management said a malfunction is to blame fortornado sirens sounding in the western part of Columbia early Thursday morning.

The sirens went off around 12:15 a.m. Thursday and blared for nearly a half hour before officials were able to turn the unit off around 12:40.

EMA officials said a single outdoor warning siren malfunctioned, causing the siren to activate in a single location. Officials said this was the only site to malfunction out of more than 100 sirens in Boone County.

Officials said technicians from the siren vendor, staff from Boone County 911 Center and others are working to find out how and why the malfunction happened. EMA officials said it is confident the malfunction was an isolated incident and not a symptom of a larger problem.

EMA officials said all sirens in the county are maintained properly with annual inspections and monthly tests. They said they will keep the community updated once they determine what caused the malfunction.

This is the second time in less than five months the sirens have sounded when there was no threat of severe weather. Back in October, ABC 17 News reported a dispatcher activated the siren system in Boone County by mistake around 6:30 in the morning.

Boone County Joint Communication officials said the sirens were activated during a daily radio system test. They said the activation was a mistake and was not a malfunction of the warning system. After that incident, joint communications officials said they were reviewing the process for siren activation to see if any changes were necessary.

These latest incidents also comes just a year after officials put a new severe weather warning system in place in Boone County.

In 2015, officials rolled out a severe weather zone warning system, which divides the county into three zones: north, central, and south. That means, for example, if a tornado threatened Centralia, only the sirens in the north zone would activate.

ABC 17 News checked in on that new warning system just in the last two weeks and officials said it’s working as it should.

ABC 17 News called joint communication this morning to find out what caused the system activate and what took officials so long to turn the sirens off. Joint communications officials told us they could not talk to us until a public information officer was available later Thursday morning.

Stay with ABC 17 News as we gather more information on this story.

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