Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Suspected Gas Explosions Rock Multiple Neighborhoods in Massachusetts

EDM Friday Briefing: Suspected Gas Explosions Rock Multiple Neighborhoods in Massachusetts

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By Kim Arsenault
Contributor, EDM Digest

Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 14, 2018: Suspected gas explosions destroy multiple homes and kill one and injure at least 20 others in Massachusetts; Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina as a Category 1 storm; a deputy in Minnesota was allegedly shot with an arrow by a suspect during a police chase; thousands in the Philippines are evacuated ahead of Typhoon Mangkhut; a vehicle attack in China has killed at least 11 and hospitalized another 44 people; a killing spree in Southern California has left the gunman and five people dead; Hawaiian officials caution residents to remain on alert after heavy rains fill a reservoir to near capacity; and officials in San Francisco threaten to yellow-tag the Millennium Tower if safety concerns are not immediately addressed.

1. One person was killed and more than 20 people were injured, including one person who is in critical condition, when a series of explosions ripped through several Massachusetts neighborhoods on Thursday. Authorities believe about 70 locations were impacted by gas explosions, fire, and gas odor investigations, prompting officials to evacuate at least 33,000 residents across several towns as a precaution. The Columbia Gas Company, who is reportedly changing gas lines across the region, was notified and company workers shut off service to approximately 8,000 customers.

2. Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at approximately 7:15 a.m. as a Category 1 storm with sustained wind speeds of 90 mph. The storm has already cut power to more than 400,000 people and hurricane-force winds collapsed the roof at the Triangle Motor Inn, where at least 70 occupants had to be evacuated. Forecasters warn that with the storm's size and sluggish track, torrential rainfall amounts could reach up to three feet and create widespread and life-threatening flooding in the coming days.

3. A deputy in Minnesota is listed in good condition after being shot with a bow and arrow during a police chase on Thursday afternoon. The incident occurred as the Stearns County Sheriffs Office was pursuing a suspect, who slammed into parked vehicles and drove through several backyards before entering a home and shooting the arrow at the deputies. The arrow pierced the deputy's arm, prompting officers to return fire on the 31-year-old unidentified suspect, who sustained several gunshot wounds and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

4. Typhoon Mangkhut, a massive storm churning in the Pacific Ocean, has set its sights on the Philippines, where preparations are already underway to help the nation brace for the storm's impact. On Wednesday, the typhoon became the strongest storm of 2018, with wind speeds of 180 mph, typhoon-force winds which extend out 168 miles and tropical storm-force winds that stretch as far north as Taiwan. At least four million residents in the Philippines are in the path of the destructive typhoon-force winds. Authorities began readying the island by pre-staging equipment, closing schools and calling for the evacuation of thousands ahead of the storm's impact on Saturday.

5. A vehicle attack in China has left at least 11 people dead and another 44 hospitalized after a man deliberately drove his SUV into a crowd of people in a public square in central China, before jumping out and attacking people with a dagger and a shovel. The man, identified as Yang Zanyun, 54, who authorities believe acted alone, had previous convictions for drug trafficking, theft, and assault, and sought to take revenge on society. The SUV appeared without warning, jumped the curb, and then plowed into the crowd of people who were gathered to dance and enjoy the cool evening breezes.

6. A gunman who went on a killing spree on Thursday in Southern California is dead after killing five others, including his ex-wife. The suspect, identified by authorities as Javier Casarez, 54, fatally shot himself after gunning down his ex-wife, killing two men, and driving to the home of an alleged friend. He then shot and killed a 57-year-old man and his daughter, a 31-year-old mother of four. Authorities suspect that domestic violence was involved and that the shootings were targeted.

7. Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Olivia have inundated Hawaii and led to the rapid rise of water in the Nuuanu Dam reservoir. Officials were initially concerned that the dam could fail, prompting them to notify nearby residents that they may need to evacuate. Officials have now stated that although water rose rapidly in the reservoir from the torrential rainfall from Olivia, water levels remain about 18 inches from the top of the spillway and the dam is not in any imminent danger of failing. However, they have  cautioned residents to remain on alert for any changes to this status. The storm made landfall Wednesday on Maui, passed south of Oahu, and also passed over Lanai, dumping moderate to heavy rainfall, flooding roads, downing trees, and knocking out power.

8. A failure to report a cracked window that occurred over Labor Day weekend in a building that has already sunk 18 inches on one side has prompted officials in San Francisco to threaten to yellow-tag the Millennium Tower if specific actions are not completed by Friday. The yellow-tag designation would restrict access to the building, which was built on a former landfill, and has been bereft with problems since it was completed in 2009. City officials are requesting that a canopy be built to catch debris and protect people on the ground, for inspections to occur on all residences to check for other damages, and the repair of a window-washing crane be completed. The broken window is the latest in a string of issues that have plagued the building since it opened, prompting multiple lawsuits by residents and others against the developer and the city.


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.