EDM Friday Briefing: California Wildfires, Zika, Flooding in Louisiana, Cybersecurity, Chicago Police Department
Emergency and disaster management briefing for August 19, 2016: California's Blue Cut Fire continues to burn, a new fire starts in rugged terrain near Santa Barbara, officials arrest three individuals in connection with the Blue Cut Fire, wildfire threat shifts eastward, Zika appears in Miami Beach, the Red Cross says flooding in Louisiana is the worst disaster since Superstorm Sandy, DHS offers to help ensure cybersecurity for elections, officers in Chicago may be fired over Laquan McDonald reports, Germany reports an earthquake near the Falkland Islands, and Tropical Storm Fiona forms in the Atlantic Ocean.
- The Blue Cut fire that has been burning since Tuesday morning was 22% contained as of Thursday evening. The fire, which is still burning aggressively, has already consumed more than 35,900 acres - close to 50 square miles - and forced the evacuation of over 82,000 people. Even though some evacuation orders have been lifted, more than 34,000 structures are still at risk, as 1,584 personnel are working to fight the fire. Fire officials are asking returning residents to use caution as emergency personnel, and fire and heavy equipment are still operating throughout the area.
- Yet another wildfire has erupted in a rural part of Santa Barbara, California on Thursday. Now known as the Rey fire, it has already consumed over 600 acres, is 20% contained, and prompted authorities to issue evacuation orders for two campgrounds and some mountain homes. The fire continues to burn near the Santa Ynez River, and due to the rugged location of the fire that is very remote, an aerial attack is being more widely used because fire trucks had trouble accessing the location.
- According to authorities, three suspects have been arrested for allegedly trying to steal a flatbed truck and looting a home that was evacuated due to the Blue Cut Fire. Concerned residents called the San Bernardino Sheriff's department to report the suspicious individuals, and when authorities arrived on scene, were told by the suspects that the homeowner had requested them to retrieve the items. A phone call to the homeowner revealed that such a request had not been made.
- Wildfire danger will remain heightened in California and other west regions of the U.S. until Fall, when wildland fire risk will shift largely eastward, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) predicted in its latest outlook. The latest National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook covered August through the end of November, and noted a significant shift in wildfire risk that should occur as Summer winds down and Fall takes hold.
- In Miami Beach, new cases of the Zika virus have been identified and are largely believed to be the result of mosquito bites. Now, state and federal officials are considering issuing a travel warning for the area, and possibly for all of Miami-Dade county, that would caution pregnant women against traveling to the area. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning for a single neighborhood in northern Miami due to a quick uptick on reported cases.
- The Red Cross has indicated that the flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is the worst disaster to hit the nation since Superstorm Sandy. So far, the death toll has reached 13, and at least 40,000 homes have have been impacted, and five parishes in the southeast region of the state have received the brunt of the impact and the most damage: East Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa. Nearly 100,000 meals have been served by the Red Cross, and as of Tuesday evening, 7,000 people still remained in shelters throughout the affected area.
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hosted a phone call this week to offer up assistance securing election infrastructure from cyber threats. Participants in the call included representatives from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the Department of Commerce's National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Department of Justice (DOJ). DHS clarified that as of now, no known cybersecurity threats exist, the offer is a proactive measure to help stem growing concern as elections approach.
- The firing of seven police officers is being recommended by the Chicago Police Department after an investigation by the city's inspector general over the Laquan McDonald shooting alleges that the officers falsified their reports. Noted as a Rule 14 violation, reports were also falsified by two other officers, who have since retired from the police department. Ongoing issues have plagued the Chicago Police Department, who recently confirmed Eddie Johnson as the new police superintendent after the forcing out of former superintendent, Garry McCarthy by the city's mayor amid criticism regarding the handling of the Laquan McDonald case.
- An earthquake monitoring station in Potsdam, Germany has reported a magnitude 7.3 quake about 1,500 miles off the tip of Argentina in the South Atlantic Ocean. The agency that recorded the quake, the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ), indicated that the depth of the quake was about 6.2 miles, and occurred in the South Georgia Island Region, which is part of the Falkland Islands. No tsunami warning has been issued as a result of the quake.
- On Wednesday evening, Tropical Storm Fiona formed in the Atlantic Ocean, but weather officials indicate that the storm faces atmospheric conditions that are likely to be hostile to its continued strengthening, including wind shear due to winds aloft, and dry air. Currently, Fiona is moving at about 8 mph and is not a threat to any land, including the United States or the Lesser Antilles.
— InciWeb (@inciweb) August 19, 2016
— Readygov (@Readygov) August 17, 2016