ATCO Gas and the Grande Prairie Fire Department investigated reports of a noxious odour in a neighbourhood, and the Facebook post – made after the investigation – suggested the odour had led to an evacuation of the neighbourhood.
Fire Chief Dan Lemieux said the Facebook post “created a panic, and the resulting inundation of calls from concerned residents, required the city to release a joint statement with his department explaining that a general evacuation of the city was not occurring, nor had one been ordered.”
His statement also mentioned “misleading reports on Facebook” as the source of the rumours, and Chief Lemieux said he’s been in contact with the RCMP for advice on how to handle “false information being released.”
Grande Prairie detachment spokesperson Corporal Roy Kennedy said it’s impossible to control what people put on Facebook, so police stress the need to exercise caution online both when sharing and reading.
Corporal Kennedy also recommends taking posts from personal accounts with a grain of salt and checking for authenticity before contributing to the panic.