Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: School Shooting in New Mexico, Wildfires Force Nearly 200,000 to Evacuate

EDM Friday Briefing: School Shooting in New Mexico, Wildfires Force Nearly 200,000 to Evacuate

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 8, 2017: A gunman opened fire in a New Mexico high school leaving three dead, a new wildfire broke out in San Diego forcing over 100,000 people to evacuate, a purple alert for fire activity has been issued across Southern California, navigation apps are leading people who are evacuating California wildfires into fire danger, a bomb threat forces the de-planing of an Alaskan Airlines flight, DHS quietly announces a biosecurity drill in a weekly classified ad for Newkirk, Oklahoma, winter weather on tap for states from Texas to New England, and a State Street subway derails in Chicago.

    1. A gunman opened fire inside a high school in Aztec, New Mexico, killing two people before he ended up dead. The school was quickly locked down and police arrived on the scene within a minute, likely preventing additional deaths. Authorities stated that the shooter and the two victims attended the school, but otherwise, have released few details regarding the incident, including whether the gunman died by suicide or was killed by police.

    1. A new, and rapidly moving wildfire erupted in San Diego, California on Thursday, expanding from 10 acres to 4,100 acres in just a few hours which prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency for the city. Dubbed the Lilac Fire, it has destroyed at least 500 buildings, injured three firefighters, and is 0 percent contained. Three civilians were injured while attempting to evacuate the flames, and a fourth person suffered smoke inhalation. By midnights authorities had issued evacuations for over 100,000 people and warned people in the area to remain on high alert overnight and be very aware of the conditions and location of the dangerous and fast moving wildfire.
    2.  A purple alert for extremely critical fire weather has been issued in California--the highest level warning possible--due to current extreme weather conditions. High winds, combined with low humidity, a parched ground, and tinder-dry brush, makes the fire situation critical. The Santa Ana winds, normally gone by November, have been howling for nearly 6 days, fanning the flames and making it difficult for firefighters to battle the blazes. In Los Angeles, 260 public and charter schools are closed due to the fires, and the University of California, Los Angeles also cancelled all classes on Thursday out of an abundance of caution.

    1. Police in Los Angeles are cautioning individuals about the use of navigation apps, such as Waze and Google Maps, to evacuate the burning wildfires. According to reports, in some cases, such apps are sending residents directly into fire danger or into the burning areas, likely because the roadways are not busy. Currently, the apps fail to account for the evacuation zones and the LA Police Department has reportedly told residents and visitors to avoid using any navigation apps to evacuate the wildfires.
    2. A bomb threat on forced passengers to evacuate the aircraft and grounded the plane until a thorough search could be made by police K-9 units. Passengers were re-screened by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) before re-boarding the flight, which departed about 90 minutes after its scheduled departure time. The incident occurred at the Mineta San Jose International Airport Wednesday morning, but after a thorough search by authorities, the threat was deemed non-credible.
    3. Residents in Newkirk, a small town in Oklahoma, are questioning why the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has chosen their location for a biosecurity drill that will release low level 'inert chemicals and biological stimulant materials' during the exercise. The test is set to be conducted sometime in 2018 at the abandoned Chilocco Indian School campus on the outskirts of town. Community meetings are filled with concerned residents questioning the safety of the chemicals after the announcement by DHS, tucked away in the weekly classified ads, was noticed by the local paper, who then made it front page news.
    4. A band of weather stretching from Texas to Virginia and into the Northeast will bring snow showers of anywhere from 1 to 6 inches across the region with impacts continuing through weekend in New England. It has already brought snow to some unlikely places, including San Antonio and Austin, Texas late Thursday, where temperatures sat at 80 degrees just two days prior. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued winter weather watches and warnings across the affected area,  including in Alabama, where some areas could see up to 5 inches of snow.

  1. A State Street subway train, operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) in Chicago derailed near the Lake Street stop around 8:00 p.m. Thursday. No injuries were reported as a result of the derailment, but one person who suffered a seizure after the incident was checked by paramedics. The incident required southbound trains to be rerouted, but northbound trains were operating normally.

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.