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(King County Image)

A 911 outage affected agencies across Washington state on Thursday and continued into the early hours of Friday, as people received emergency alerts on their smartphones late Thursday evening with alternatives to 911 phone numbers.

Update, Friday 8:40 a.m.: Some agencies, including the King County Sheriff”s Office, reported that 911 telephone services had recovered as of approximately 8:30 a.m. Friday morning. However, others are advising that service could still be intermittent.

Update, Friday 10:10 a.m.: The Federal Communications Commision has initiated an investigation into the outage.

Update, Friday 9:30 p.m.: CenturyLink said all consumer services have been restored. 

Update, Saturday 3:45 p.m.: The outage was reportedly caused by a bad networking card in Colorado

People in Washington and parts of Oregon had tweeted about receiving the emergency alert on their smartphones just past 11:20 p.m. PT Thursday, including GeekWire reporters in Portland, Ore.

An emergency alert message sent to a reporter’s Android smartphone on Thursday evening. CRESA is the 911 dispatch for Clark County, Wash.

The alert, which listed an alternative emergency number, appears to be sent via the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system that launched in 2012 and warns the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other situations. The WEA is different than President Trump’s new nationwide Emergency Alert System that was tested in October.

CenturyLink reported a nationwide disruption Thursday morning and later identified a “network element that was impacting customer services,” with a fix scheduled by 1 a.m. PT on Friday. It’s unclear if and how the CenturyLink problems were related to the 911 outage, but tweets from the Seattle Police Department and Clark County 911 Dispatch indicate they are connected.

King County said that the outage was “caused by a malfunction at CenturyLink.” It also said the new text-to-911 service was available.

Here’s a look at Thursday’s CenturyLink outages across the U.S., according to


FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted that “the FCC investigation needs to start now.”

CenturyLink was fined $2.9 million in 2016 by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission for failing to reroute emergency calls during an April 2014 outage that lasted six hours.

We’ve reached out to CenturyLink for more details and will update this story when we hear back.

Here’s a list of alternate emergency numbers to call for various areas of the state:

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