Home Emergency Management News EDM Digest Wednesday Briefing: Amtrak Train Kills Two, Plague Cases in USA

EDM Digest Wednesday Briefing: Amtrak Train Kills Two, Plague Cases in USA


Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 28, 2017: The Brian Head fire continues to rage in Utah amid red flag warnings, an Amtrak train kills two outside Washington, DC, five children are sickened by a chlorine release in Florida, the subway derailment in New York was allegedly human-caused, three Chicago Police Officers are indicted over the Laquan McDonald cover-up, New Mexico confirms its third case of the plague, a ransomware attack disrupts at least 2,000 organizations across Europe, and multiple wildfires are still burning in California.

  1. More than 1,600 fire fighters and personnel continue to battle a destructive wildfire near the Utah ski town of Brian Head that has been fueled by high winds and excessive heat. The blaze, which is currently the largest fire in the nation at 49,626 acres or about 78 square miles, has destroyed at least 13 homes and forced the evacuation of 1,500 people. Weather conditions on Wednesday are not favorable for fire containment efforts and include low humidity, steady winds, and strong wind gusts, along with a red flag warning which could produce extreme fire behavior.
  2. Amtrak service between Washington, DC and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was suspended until Wednesday morning following an incident that killed two CSX employees late Tuesday night. An Amtrak train carrying 175 passengers and crew members struck and killed the two workers near Union Station. No one on board was injured and disruptions to service may persist as the investigation into the incident continues.
  3. Five children taking swimming lessons at an indoor pool in Tampa, Florida on Monday night were taken to the hospital after complaining of nausea and stomach discomfort. The children were sickened by a cloud of chlorine that had been released into the pool after a thunderstorm had tripped the breaker for the pump that added chemicals to the pool, causing a buildup of a chlorine chemical mixture. A HITS 9 HAZMAT crew worked to ventilate the building and ensure it was safe before releasing it back to the owner.
  4. In New York on Tuesday, a subway train derailed near a Harlem station, injuring a total of 39 people and caused the evacuation of hundreds of other individuals. Three other trains were in the tunnel at the time the southbound (A) train hit the wall of the tunnel and caused two of the eight cars on the train to derail which damaged the track. An initial investigation shows that improper storing of equipment in between the tracks likely caused the derailment, as according to investigators, an extra piece of track allegedly had not been properly bolted down. 
  5. The special prosecutor appointed to review how police handled a probe into the Laquan McDonald shooting announced that three officers that allegedly conspired to cover up the details of the shooting death of Laquan McDonald have been indicted on felony charges. Reports indicate that patrol officers Thomas Gaffney and Joseph Walsh, and detective David March, have been charged with conspiracy, official misconduct, and obstruction of justice. Police dash cam video shows how McDonald, who was holding a knife, was shot by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke 16 times as McDonald walked away from police during an incident in 2014.
  6. Two new cases of the human plague have been confirmed by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) in Santa Fe, County, New Mexico. The disease was reported in two women and NMDOH conducted an environmental investigation around their homes to determine how the the women contracted the disease in order to help reduce the risk for other members of the family and area neighbors. The disease is transmitted to humans in most cases by flea bites and the once deadly disease, if caught early enough, can now be treated effectively with antibiotics.
  7. On Tuesday, organizations across Europe experienced a ransomware attack that sparked mass disruptions, especially in the Ukraine. The virus, believed to be 'Petya' ransomware, disrupted Ukranian government offices, banks, and power grids, along with flights at Kiev's Boryspil Airport. Others affected by the attack included the Danish shipping giant, A.P. Moller-Maersk across its multiple sites, the London based ad agency, WPP, and Russia's Rosneft oil company. Currently, there is no workaround for the 'Petya' virus which according to experts, is almost an identical clone of the 'GoldenEye' ransomware family.
  8. The State of California is battling multiple wildfires up and down its coast, including one that began Monday afternoon outside San Luis Obispo in the state's central coast area. The blaze, which quickly spread, spawned evacuation orders for dozens of rural homes on Monday night, but was canceled Tuesday evening by fire officials. The rapidly spreading fire has already scorched 1,600 acres and destroyed multiple structures although fire officials indicate that the wildfire is now 60 percent contained. 

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.