Tornado sirens malfunction in Ellsworth


ELLSWORTH, Kan. (KSNW) – Just a little before 7 p.m. Wednesday night, Ellsworth’s tornado sirens, or outdoor warning devices, went off.

Some residents called 911, while others weren’t so worried about it.

“I thought it was probably the test,” said Diana Zouzas.

However, it wasn’t the city’s weekly test, and while there was rain in the area, there was no threat of severe weather.

City crews determined the siren going off was near the Ellsworth Correctional Facility, and they tried to deactivate it.

“Dispatch, through the communications center, tried to reset the program was unable to, so we just killed the power to that siren itself,” said Ellsworth police chief Emil Halfhill.

Officials are still trying to determine what caused the malfunction, but they believe it might be due to rain.

“We believe water got in somewhere, and shorted something out,” said Halfhill. “Or just cross-wired somewhere and allowed it to activate itself.”

Halfhill was out at the tornado siren Wednesday night, and he said none of the power boxes were wet, but there was a puddle of water near the pole.

There are some wires that run underground, according to Halfhill.

The city has been working with the sirens’ service provider to troubleshoot the sirens, and there was also a test early Thursday morning.

“At this point, all of them are functioning to the best of our knowledge,” said Halfhill. “But going forward we’re still going to dig into the root of this problem and find out what our issue is on a long-term.”

KSN’s Amanda Aguilar was out in Ellsworth this morning, when the sirens went off again. Officials said they are still waiting for the service provider to look at the siren equipment.

Halfhill said if they have to disable the siren, there aren’t any safety concerns because the city still has four other working sirens.

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