Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: INL Resumes Operations Following Wildfire Threat
EDM Friday Briefing: INL Resumes Operations Following Wildfire Threat

EDM Friday Briefing: INL Resumes Operations Following Wildfire Threat

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 26, 2019: The latest heat wave to hit Europe smashes records and has negative impacts on infrastructure, including train service; the INL has resumed normal operations as fire crews continue work to contain the Sheep Fire; vaccines might not be enough to stop the Ebola outbreak in the DRC as mistrust and ongoing violence undermine efforts to fight the disease; an intense manhunt is underway in Canada for two teens suspected in the deaths of three people; 16 Marines were arrested in Camp Pendleton in connection with human smuggling; a man is in custody in California following a shooting spree that left four people dead and two others wounded; Oregon is on high alert for wildfires amid critical fire weather and red flag warnings; and utilities in California have agreed to contribute to a fund to help offset costs from wildfires sparked by electric company equipment.

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1) A second heat wave has gripped Europe, sending temperatures soaring straight into the record books. Paris smashed its old record when it reached a whopping 108.6 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday, and authorities in France have attributed at least five deaths to the current heat wave. Several countries set all-time-high heat records this week, including Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Infrastructure across the region was impacted, including nuclear reactors and the Notre Dame Cathedral in France, along with trains and train service in England and Belgium.

2) Fire crews stated Thursday that the Sheep Fire in Idaho is under control, and operations at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) have returned to normal conditions. Fire officials stated that the blaze was difficult to contain because it was extreme and erratic, mostly due to high winds and dry conditions. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Sheep Fire had consumed at least 110,000 acres, although officials noted that the public was not in any danger and no radiological release to the environment occurred.

3) Reports indicate that the current outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is in danger of spreading further, because it has been difficult to contain the virus due to mistrust and ongoing violence in the region. A vaccine developed by Merck was deemed largely effective to prevent infection by Ebola, but there may not be enough available and the only other vaccine available has not been tested. In addition, over a quarter of the residents believe the outbreak is not real, and the vaccines are not meant to eradicate the disease, but actually a plot to help it spread.

4) An intense manhunt is underway and warrants have been issued across Canada for two teens suspected of murdering at least three people. The teens are suspected of killing a couple, Chynna Reese and Lucas Fowler, and a third victim, Leonard Dyck, 64. Authorities noted that all three murders occurred on remote roads. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stated that the two teens, Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, should be considered armed and dangerous, and that they may traveling together or separately.

5) Sixteen Marines were arrested at Camp Pendleton on Thursday during a battalion formation, while another eight Marines were pulled aside for questioning for unrelated alleged drug offenses. The 16 Marines were arrested in connection with human smuggling, but have not yet been officially charged. The U.S. Marine Corps noted that those arrested were members of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton in California, but were not serving in support of the ongoing Southwest Border Support mission.

6) Authorities have arrested the suspect allegedly involved in a 12-hour shooting spree that spanned four locations across the San Fernando Valley in California, leaving four people dead and two others wounded. The shooting spree allegedly began around 2:00 a.m. Thursday, when police responded to a report of multiple shooting victimes and found a woman and two men with gunshot wounds. Gerry Dean Zaragoza, 26, the alleged gunman, reportedly shot two people at a gas station in North Hollywood, then allegedly boarded a bus in Lake Balboa where he shot a man in the head and killed him.

7) As temperatures heat up in Oregon, wildfire risks are increasing, especially in the Willamette Valley, which prompted a Red Flag Warning for Thursday for much of the area. Critical fire weather, including extremely dry conditions, low relative humidity, and winds of 10-15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph, can cause fire to spread rapidly. One wildfire was already burning near Canyonville -- the Milepost 97 Fire. This fire consumed 150 acres, prompted evacuation orders for some residents and closed a southbound off-ramp on I-5.

8) Utilities in California have agreed to contribute to a fund to help offset costs from wildfires sparked by power company equipment that ultimately could help to protect ratepayers. San Diego Gas & Electric was the first utility to agree to pay into the fund, followed by three other investor-owned electric utilities, including Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. The utilities agreed to contribute a combined $10.5 billion to the fund, but are also required to meet new safety standards and spend billions on fire prevention measures.

 

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.