Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Widespread Evacuations After California Wildfires' Explosive Growth
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Widespread Evacuations After California Wildfires' Explosive Growth

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Widespread Evacuations After California Wildfires' Explosive Growth


Emergency and disaster management briefing for August 19, 2020: The NHC is monitoring three systems for potential development into tropical depressions; CAISO has issued a Stage 3 Emergency and Flex Alert for Wednesday due to the ongoing heat wave across California; PG&E has developed an online tool for customers to determine approximate times for power loss during rolling power outages; Sonoma County cancelled school on Wednesday due to multiple wildfire threats; multiple cheese dips that used potentially salmonella-tainted onions are now being recalled; the LNU Complex Fires are prompting widespread evacuations and pre-evacuation warnings due to swift movement amid extreme fire behavior; a FedEx cargo jet made an emergency landing at LAX early Wednesday due to a main landing gear malfunction; residents near Vacaville fled their homes in the middle of the night due to explosive wildfire growth; and Carnival Cruise Lines has become the latest victim of a ransomware attack that likely affected customer and employee personal data.

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1) The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is tracking three tropical systems: one over the eastern Caribbean Sea, one in the Atlantic Ocean and another that is still over Africa. Invest 98L is over the Atlantic and has a 90% chance of developing into a tropical depression over the next 48 hours. Current model predictions are nearly congruent, tracking almost directly towards Florida, although conditions could change the storm's path.

2) A statewide Stage 3 Emergency and Flex Alert has been issued for all of California through Wednesday by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the state's grid operators. The alert is in place through Wednesday due to the ongoing heat wave that is producing record-breaking temperatures in California and many western states. According to CAISO, the heat wave is allegedly straining the power grid across the state, and the grid operator is asking for voluntary electricity conservation between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. to help prevent and/or reduce additional power outages.

3) A new online tool developed by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) can help customers in California determine when they may be affected by rolling power outages. The rolling power outages are organized in a table by circuit blocks across the service area. The online tool allows customers to look up their circuit block and sub-circuit block, which will give them an estimated time of the outage for their location. Residents are being urged to voluntarily conserve energy to help prevent the rolling outages.

4) Schools in Sonoma County, California, are closed Wednesday due to the 13-4 Fire that has prompted mandatory evacuations. The wildfire is part of the LNU Lightning Complex, which consists of a total of seven wildfires. The blaze ignited Tuesday evening, prompting widespread evacuations due to the swift spread of the 13-4 and several other fires. High temperatures amid the ongoing heat wave have wildfires exhibiting extreme fire behavior that is challenging firefighting efforts.

5) Multiple cheese dips are now being included in the recall for onions due to potential salmonella contamination. Retailers involved in the cheese dip recalls include Kroger's Fred Meyer, Fry's Food and Smith's, who sold the dips from May 15 through August 6. Products recalled include Murray's and Jarlsberg, along with deli cheese dips and spreads sold by the various retailers.

6) Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for areas of the San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties in California due to the LNU Lightning Complex Fires. The wildfires involved in the Complex Fires are experiencing extremely swift spread, and evacuation warnings are already in place for additional locations in Santa Cruz County among other locations. Residents in the area should closely monitor local authorities for official orders, school closures and fire information.

7) A FedEx cargo jet made an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport early Wednesday morning. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), FedEx Flight 1026 — operated with a Boeing 767 — was unable to extend its left main landing gear prior to landing. The aircraft, which was arriving from Newark Liberty International Airport, was forced to land with only the right main gear. The landing caused the engine under the left wing to come in contact with the ground, creating heavy sparks.

8) The ongoing heat wave has caused several wildfires to explode in growth, including the Hennessey Fire. Residents were forced to evacuate in the middle of the night from Tuesday to Wednesday as the fire swiftly spread to an area populated with homes just north of Vacaville, in Solano County, California. The fire was sparked by lightning on Monday afternoon, and CalFire noted that there were more than 5,990 lightning strikes that sparked a total of 155 fires in Northern California across a 24-hour period that began Monday.

9) Carnival Cruise Lines has become the latest company to get hit with a ransomware attack. The attack, which occurred on August 15, likely allowed the hackers to access the personal data of guests and employees, which could be used for malicious purposes such as identity theft. According to reports, the ransomware attack encrypted the data of only one of the information technology systems brands that are used by Carnival.


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.