Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: A California Firefighter Dies Fighting The Thomas Fire

EDM Friday Briefing: A California Firefighter Dies Fighting The Thomas Fire

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 15, 2017: A firefighter dies in a major California wildfire, UAVs/drones help fire officials fight wildfires, Puerto Ricans migrate en masse to Florida following Hurricane Maria, the Thomas Fire is only 35 percent contained amid increased wind forecasts, a Miami daycare closes voluntarily after two children die, Connecticut police officers shoot three carjacking suspects, killing one, a study reveals pregnant women living near fracking sites deliver lower birth-weight infants, the driver of the vehicle that killed one during the clashes in Charlottesville now faces first-degree murder charges.

  1. Cory Iverson, 32, a firefighter for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as CalFire, died Thursday while fighting the Thomas Fire. Iverson was a fire apparatus engineer and a member of a CalFire strike team. An investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death is being conducted by a serious accident review team.
  2. Fire departments are now implementing the use of various drones in the effort to fight and contain raging wildfires. For only the third time, the U.S. Secretary of Defense approved the use of a Reaper MQ-9, just 36 hours after the Thomas Fire began, in order to assist incident commanders with operational efforts. The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)-drones-are able to transmit timely information from five-miles above, including spot-fire detection, helping prevent some areas from being burned.
  3. Mass migration to Florida from Puerto Rico has continued following the island's devastation by Hurricane Maria. At least 231,000 residents from the island have arrived into the Miami, Orlando, and Tampa airports, with at least 8,500 new students being enrolled in school districts statewide, including some from the Virgin Islands. Florida is struggling to accommodate the new students in a school system that is already short of math, science, and English teachers. https://twitter.com/PRicoReport/status/941366931285856257
  4. Firefighters took advantage of a two-day decrease in winds to try to get ahead of the Thomas Fire burning in Santa Barbara County. The blaze has already exceeded the size of the Zaca Fire, which scorched Santa Barbara in 2007, but fire officials fear that could change with an uptick in winds predicted for Friday. The Thomas Fire has consumed nearly 250,000 acres, is now the fourth largest fire in history, and is only 35 percent contained. Fire officials stated that they are looking at full containment near January 7--over three weeks away.
  5. Officials are working closely with a Miami daycare center that voluntarily closed after two of its enrolled children, ages 22 months and 2 years, died. The 22-month old died of pneumococcal meningitis, and an investigation into the death of the 2-year-old is still being conducted. Officials have stated that they are unsure if the deaths are related, but that they will inspect the daycare center before they clear it to reopen. 
  6. Police officers in New Britain, Connecticut shot at three carjacking suspects while trying to stop the vehicle they believed was involved in a series of recent incidents. The armed carjacking incidents have occurred over the last two weeks across the city with the suspects pistol-whipping one individual and pulling a gun on another victim. Officials have stated that one of the carjacking suspects was killed while the other two are expected to survive, and at least one firearm was recovered from the vehicle by police.
  7. A new study released indicates that women who become pregnant that live close to fracking sites are 25 percent more likely to delivery low birth-weight babies. The births of over 1 million babies in Pennsylvania spanning from 2004 to 2013--before and after fracking--were analyzed. Those women living closest to fracking sites (.64 miles) were found to have the largest impacts, with about 25 percent of babies being born at or below 5.5 pounds.
  8. Charges against the driver of the vehicle that plowed into protestors during clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia have been upgraded to first-degree murder, indicating that prosecutors believe the act was premeditated. The vehicle attack was carried out by James A. Fields, Jr., 20, from Ohio, who drove his car into a group of counter-protestors, striking and killing Heather Heyer, and injuring 35 others. The protest, held on August 12, 2017, was organized to protest the removal of Confederate statues from public parks. 

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.