Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Idaho Wildfire Prompts INL Evacuations
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Idaho Wildfire Prompts INL Evacuations

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Idaho Wildfire Prompts INL Evacuations


Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 24, 2019: A swift-moving wildfire prompted the evacuation of non-essential personnel from INL facilities in Idaho; the NWS confirmed an EF-1 tornado touched down multiple times in Cape Cod; TEPCO is set to decommission another nuclear power plant in Japan; firefighters have gained control of the last wildfire in central Portugal; the death toll continues to rise from flooding and landslides produced by monsoon rains in India, Nepal and Bangladesh; the Venezuelan government blamed its current widespread blackout on an alleged electromagnetic attack but reportedly offered no proof; monsoon rains produced lightning strikes that killed 32 in India; and a heatwave grips Europe as Bordeaux, France records highest-ever temperature since recordkeeping began.

1) Non-essential employees were evacuated from several state nuclear research facilities in Idaho after lightning Monday evening sparked a swift-moving wildfire near Idaho Falls. The Sheep Fire had consumed more than 85,000 acres by Tuesday, threatening the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and prompting the evacuation, while those who remained began preparations for power outages. Radiological and air quality levels are being monitored as firefighters from INL and the Bureau of Land Management work to fight the fire, although wind conditions are challenging those efforts.

2) The National Weather Service (NWS) has confirmed multiple touchdowns of a tornado in Cape Cod on Tuesday. Maximum wind speed for the tornado was 110 mph, making it a strong EF-1 tornado. The storm twisted trees, downed power lines and created extensive power outages in its wake. Pockets of damage, including missing roofs and damaged buildings, were evident in two locations in Yarmouth and in Harwich, where the majority of the town lost power. A state of emergency has been declared.

3) Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) has allegedly decided to scrap another nuclear power plant, Fukushima Daini, located approximately seven miles south of Fukushima Daiichi. Three of the six reactors at the Daiichi plant suffered catastrophic meltdowns after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and new, stricter regulations make it far too costly to relicense the aging Daini facility. The complete shutdown and decommissioning of the Daini plant will leave Japan with just 33 reactors, down from 54 reactors operational prior to the 2011 disaster at Fukushima Daiichi.

4) Firefighters in Portugal finally gained control of the last of three wildfires that erupted on Saturday in Castelo Branco, a district about 140 miles northeast of Lisbon. Some villages were evacuated, and at least 41 people were injured -- including multiple firefighters -- with one person in serious condition. The wildfire consumed at least 21,000 acres over the weekend, and after an initial investigation, authorities believe the fires may have been set intentionally.

5) Monsoon rains have not been evenly distributed this year across India. The Himalayans have received the majority of the precipitation, leaving the plains areas with a widening, 60 percent deficiency. Severe flooding impacted India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, and the floods have now claimed the lives of at least 300 people as of Monday. Bihar, one of India's poorest states, has seen 102 of those deaths. In Bangladesh, more than 47 are dead with 120 missing and feared dead, following flooding and landslides in the mountainous areas of Nepal.

6) A fourth blackout in less than five months hit Venezuela on Monday, plunging more than half the country into darkness and halting public transportation trains in Caracas. The government is blaming an electromagnetic attack for the outage. However, according to reports, no evidence was produced to substantiate the government's claim. Venezuela's power grid has reportedly fallen into disrepair after years of inadequate investment and poor maintenance.

7) Bihar has been plagued by monsoon rains, which have produced multiple lightning strikes over a 24-hour period from Sunday to Monday. More than a dozen people have been injured, and at least 32 people were killed. Lightning struck eight people in Jamui, seven in Aurangabad, five in Banka and three each in the Bhagalpur and Rohtas districts. Two deaths occurred in Nalanda; Gaya, Munger and Katihar each recorded one death. According to state officials, dangerous lightning often accompanies strong storms generated by India's monsoon season, which runs from June-September.

8) Temperatures are inching higher in Europe as a heatwave grips the region. The highest temperature ever observed since recordkeeping began occurred in Bordeaux, France, on Tuesday -- a whopping 106.1 degrees Fahrenheit. An Orange alert has been issued for much of France for the week, the nation's second highest rating. Temperatures are forecast to reach into the triple digits, including in Paris. Extra measures have been implemented to prevent dehydration for competitors in the Tour de France, which is entering its final week. Animal transportation has been banned during peak high temperature hours, which are 13:00 and 18:00 hrs (1:00 p.m - 6:00 p.m.) in the country.


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.