Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Yosemite to Close For Protective Measures

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Yosemite to Close For Protective Measures

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 25, 2018: The death toll in Greece's wildfires has risen to 74, a hydroelectric dam collapse in Laos leaves hundreds missing and thousands homeless, popular Yosemite Valley will close for at least 4 days beginning on Wednesday to assist firefighters in their protection methods, the Ferguson Wildfire has consumed over 36,500 acres and is threatening Yosemite National Park, Pepperidge Farm issues a recall for several varieties of its Goldfish products, police in Toronto have identified the suspect from Sunday's mass shooting, nearly 100 people are sickened by the norovirus at a lake in Maine, and flash flood watches and warnings remain in effect throughout the mid-Atlantic after weeks of heavy rainfall.

  1. The death toll in Greece rose to 74 on Tuesday as wildfires, fueled by gale-force winds that frequently changed direction, trapped people in their cars or homes in a seaside resort area near the Greek capital, making it impossible for them to escape. The bodies of 26 people were found near the seaside town of Mati, close to the beach, some huddled together in an embrace. Two airplanes, each capable of carrying 5.5 tons of water, were sent by Spain to assist Greece in containing the wildfires, and firefighters were able to contain the Mati fire by Tuesday afternoon.  
  2. A hydroelectric dam collapse released 5 billion cubic meters of water in southeastern Laos that killed several and left hundreds missing on Monday evening. The massive water surge from the failed Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam swept away several homes and left at least 6,600 people homeless in the Attapeu province. Dam officials noted that the project was not yet complete, and the portion that collapsed was a saddle dam--an auxiliary dam used to hold water beyond what the main dam can hold.   
  3. A wildfire burning to the west of Yosemite National Park, the Ferguson Fire, is spreading a thick haze of smoke over the Yosemite Valley as firefighters work to corral the blaze that now threatens one of the nation's most popular parks. To assist firefighters in their efforts, Yosemite Valley, the heart of the experience of the park, will close to all visitors and services for at least four days beginning at noon on Wednesday. The closure will allow firefighters to perform protective measures to better secure the park, such as burning brush along roadways, without having to work against traffic and tourists.  
  4. The Ferguson Fire, which began July 13 in the Sierra National Forest, has now consumed over 36,580 acres, has resulted in mandatory evacuations, and was only 25 percent contained as of Tuesday evening. The fire is being fueled by brush and timber that is burning in rugged, steep terrain, much of which is inaccessible, in both the Sierra National Forest and the Stanislaus National Forest. One firefighter has died and a total of 6 others have been injured and more than 3,300 personnel are currently engaged on the fire, including 194 engines, 91 crews, and 16 helicopters.  
  5. Pepperidge Farm is the latest company to voluntarily recall its products due to concerns certain items could potentially be carrying salmonella. The recall was prompted after the whey powder manufacturer informed the company that the powder used in certain products could potentially contain salmonella. Four varieties of the company's Goldfish crackers distributed in the United States that were recalled include Flavor Blasted Xtra Cheddar, Flavor Blasted Sour Cream & Onion, Goldfish Baked with Whole Grain Xtra cheddar, and Goldfish Mix Xtra Cheddar + Pretzel. Two other products have recently been recalled due to concerns over the possible presence of salmonella--Kellogg's Honey Smacks and some Ritz Crackers products.  
  6. Police in Toronto have identified the gunman in Sunday's mass shooting as Faisal Hussain, 29, who shot and killed two people and injured 13 others in the popular Greektown neighborhood of the nation's largest city. The suspected gunman had twice been taken into police custody due to mental health concerns and police were aware of his mental health status as far back as 2010. The suspect was found dead in an alley after an exchange of gunfire with police, ending the mass shooting.  
  7.  Nearly 100 people were sickened by the norovirus after swimming in a lake in Maine, or coming in contact with someone who swam in the lake. The Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that after swimming in the Woods Pond Beach lake in Bridgton, or coming in contact with someone who did, as of last week, 97 people had contracted the highly contagious virus. After testing, E. coli levels were found to be acceptable in the lake, but not in the water in the two bathroom sinks, which have since been removed and replaced with hand sanitizer.  
  8. Severe weather impacting the mid-Atlantic states over the past few weeks has resulted in flash flooding in some locations, prompted two tornadoes, and caused one Pennsylvania town to declare a disaster emergency. The heavy rainfall has dropped over 10 inches of rain in some parts of the mid-Atlantic, washing away portions of roads, creating sinkholes, causing road and bridge closures, and resulted in some water rescues in various states. Numerous flash flood watches and warnings remain in effect throughout the mid-Atlantic states due to the record rainfall, and the National Weather Service has stated that the situation could potentially be dangerous, even life threatening in some areas.  

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.