Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Rapid Growth of Decker Fire Prompts Evacuations
EDM Friday Briefing: Rapid Growth of Decker Fire Prompts Evacuations

EDM Friday Briefing: Rapid Growth of Decker Fire Prompts Evacuations


Emergency and disaster management briefing for October 4, 2019: Three hospitals in Alabama had to turn away non-critical patients after being hit with a ransomware attack; rapid growth of the Decker Fire in Colorado prompted evacuations in multiple subdivisions; North Carolina health officials believe they may have found the source of the recent Legionnaires' outbreak that infected at least 124 people; a shooting at a senior-living complex in Washington State killed one and critically injured two; a FEMA team evaluated infrastructure damage from ongoing flooding in hard-hit Warren County, Mississippi; the NTSB is leading the investigation into the WWII-era bomber crash in Connecticut that killed seven people; the CDC says the number of vaping-related illnesses has climbed to 1,080 with a total of 18 deaths; and new cases have been confirmed by the WHO in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the DRC.

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1) Three hospitals in Alabama were hit by a ransomware attack that temporarily forced them to turn away all but the most critical of patients. Ryuk has been cited as the culprit in the cyber attack on the DCH medical centers, a tailored attack that encrypted files and restricted access to computer systems. DCH, a Tuscaloosa-based firm, is coordinating with law enforcement as it works to restore systems, but no other information is being released regarding the attack at this time.

2) Evacuations began early Wednesday morning for those affected by the Decker Fire burning on Methodist Mountain in Colorado. The Decker Fire more than doubled in size overnight and continued to grow rapidly on Thursday, consuming more than 5,300 acres. A Type I Incident Management Team (IMT) took over command of the fire early Thursday; the blaze has damaged at least one home and forced the evacuation of at least five subdivisions. Currently, the Decker Fire is only about five percent contained.

3) North Carolina health officials believe they may be close to finding the source of the Legionnaire's disease outbreak that caused one death and has plagued the state since September. There have been a total of 124 reported cases of Legionnaire's disease and Pontiac fever (a milder form of the infection), of which at least 60 percent diagnosed with the disease had to be hospitalized. Officials believe that a hot tub display in the Davis Event Center inside the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center -- used during a state fair that ran from September 6-15 -- was the likely culprit.

4) A shooting on Thursday in Vancouver, Washington, at a senior-living complex left one person dead and two others critically injured. The incident began around 2:00 p.m., when Robert Break, 80, opened fire in the lobby of the building, striking and killing one person and critically injuring two other women. The suspect then barricaded himself in his apartment, which prompted evacuation orders for some and required others to shelter-in-place. It took crisis negotiators three hours to convince the suspect to allow them to enter his apartment, where he surrendered without incident.

5) Warren County, Mississippi, may be receiving assistance to repair or replace county infrastructure damaged during intense flooding that has inundated areas near Eagle Lake since February. Members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) toured the area of Warren County around Eagle Lake -- included in the federal disaster declaration signed by President Trump in September -- to assess road and other infrastructure damage caused by the ongoing backwater flooding. In addition to assessing disaster damages, a member of the team also evaluated areas that may benefit from mitigation programs to prevent future problems and provide better protection.

6) An investigation led by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), into what caused the crash of a WWII-era B-17 bomber in Connecticut on Wednesday, is underway. The crash killed seven of the thirteen people on board the aircraft, including the co-pilot and pilot, who had acquired 3,700 hours of flight time in the B-17. The plane took off from Bradley International Airport at around 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, and reported engine trouble shortly after takeoff. The plane declared an emergency and attempted to return to the airport, but missed the runway and collided with a deicing facility before it burst into flames.

7) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new statement on Thursday regarding vaping-related illnesses. According to new information, there are now 1,080 reported cases of vaping-related illnesses across 48 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including a total of 18 deaths in 15 states. The new totals are as of October 1, and the illness is sparking alarm among the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state health officials, who are still trying to determine the exact cause of the vaping-related illnesses.

8) In what has become the largest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo's history since the virus's discovery in 1976, total cases have now reached nearly 3,200. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported three new cases on Wednesday, bring the total number of Ebola cases to 3,197, including 2,136 deaths. The WHO has identified the current outbreak of Ebola as the Ebola Zaire strain. Violence in regions where the outbreak is occurring have blocked critical interventions that could have prevented the disease from spreading and saved lives.


Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.