Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Montana Blaze Largest in Nation; Police Shootings

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Montana Blaze Largest in Nation; Police Shootings

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 26, 2017: Montana fire fighters are struggling to control the nation's largest blaze, Penn Station track repairs reduce the number of available trains for commuters, 12,000 people are evacuated as wildfires rage across the south of France, a Jacksonville, Florida police officer is recovering from a gunshot wound to the face, BART officials come under fire for failure to release surveillance video of attacks, New York City's subway needs immediate influx of cash to stabilize its failing system, a teenager was shot by Marion, Arkansas police responding to a call at a juvenile emergency shelter, and Swiss police arrest the individual suspected of the chainsaw attack in Schaffhausen.

  1.  The largest wildfire in the nation, known as the Lodgepole Complex fire, is burning in the sparsely populated Garfield County of eastern Montana near the Missouri River. The blaze has consumed at least 270,000 acres, destroyed 16 homes and 10 structures, and required the evacuation of at least 50 property owners. Recent lower temperatures and higher humidity have aided the more than 650 personnel and fire fighters working to get control of the blaze, which is now approximately 34 percent contained.
  2. Repairs are underway in New York's Penn Station, dropping the number of trains servicing the station, and Manhattan, by about 160, from 1,300 to 1,140 trains on any given day. Repairs were originally slated to occur during off peak hours, however a series of recent derailments and track issues have required Amtrak, the owner of the station and the interstate railroad, to speed up the repair schedule. The company is focusing most of its $30 to $40 million in repairs on the complex crisscrossing track portion, which is about 50 percent complete.
  3. Wildfires burning in southern France and on the island of Corsica have forced the evacuation of at least 12,000 people as the fires have progressed. At least 12 fire fighters and approximately 15 police officers have also been injured while responding to the blazes, and France has called on the European Union for assistance battling the wildfires that are raging in its tinder-dry south. Around 4,000 fire fighters and 19 water bombers have mobilized to help battle the wildfires that have already consumed more than 7,000 acres combined. 
  4. A police officer in Jacksonville, Florida is recovering following a gunshot wound to the face and a suspected bank robber has died after being fatally shot by the police officer. Police were patrolling an area on the westside of Jacksonville to locate suspects from two bank robberies that occurred earlier in the week, when they observed one of the suspects getting into a car being driven by a woman and began to pursue the vehicle. The shootings occurred following an approximate two mile car pursuit that ended when the suspect stepped out of the vehicle and began an exchange of gunfire with the officers.
  5. Officials of San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system are under fire for withholding video surveillance of several recent train attacks, a stance that has left many riders frustrated and feeling vulnerable to future attacks. Officials state that the videos are being withheld because the attacks, which were perpetrated by up to 30 young black riders, may include some juveniles. According to reports, an internal BART memo suggests otherwise, indicating that the videos are being withheld because systems officials are fearful of creating racial stereotyping. One of the victims from the attack, Rusty Stapp, is suing BART for gross negligence for failure to properly help protect the public.
  6. Following a 30-day audit of New York City's subway system, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman, Joseph Lhota, stated that an immediate $836 million was needed to stabilize the failing infrastructure of the city's public transportation system. The funding would precede another $8 billion needed to continue modernization of the severely aging system, which is currently halfway through a $15 billion capital expenditure project slated to be complete in 2019. The city's subway system has been in place since 1904 and is currently operating on World War II-era signaling equipment, with trains running on-time only about 63 percent of the time.
  7. Marion, Arkansas police officers responding to a call at a juvenile emergency shelter on Tuesday night shot and critically injured a 16-year-old boy. Officers responded to the call at the juvenile emergency shelter in Marion, about 10 miles northwest of Memphis, Tennessee at around 7:08 p.m. and reported moments later that police had shot and wounded a teenager. The incident is being investigated by special agents from the Arkansas State Police criminal investigation division. The teen has since died from injuries sustained in the shooting
  8. On Tuesday, Swiss police arrested the individual suspected of wielding a chain saw that injured two office workers in the small town of Schaffhausen, Switzerland. A total of five people were treated following the attack, two individuals injured by the suspect, one of them critically, two for shock, and one person who was injured during the police response. The suspect, identified as Franz Wrousis, was arrested approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Schaffhausen following a two-day international manhunt.

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.