EDM Friday Briefing: Wildfires, More Wildfires, EgyptAir Flight 804 Wreckage
Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 17, 2016: The 2016 U.S. wildfire season begins with a vengeance, New Mexico declares a state of emergency due to a wildfire, California officials warn that the 2016 wildfire season could be the worst ever, fires cause evacuations in AZ and CA, a study finds that more than 9 of 10 wildfires are human-caused, and searchers find EgyptAir Flight 804's cockpit voice recorder and black box.
- The 2016 wildfire season has begun with a vengeance. So far this year, more than 1.8 million acres have already burned, and summer heat is set to scorch the West. High temperatures are likely to break records and further dry out an already parched region. Scientists believe that climate change continues to impact weather patterns, which is altering precipitation across the globe,, and exacerbating drought conditions. This recipe is leading to increased wildfire risk.
- New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency after a wildfire approximately 6 miles northwest of Tajique quickly doubled in size, and grew to more than 16,000 acres. The National Guard has been activated to fight the fire. Mandatory evacuations have been announced, as hot, dry weather is expected through the weekend.
- California fire officials have recently warned of dangerous fire season to come. Persistent drought, dead trees and even El Nino are all contributing the increased fire risk in the state. Rain fueled by El Nino early in the year allowed for a lot of vegetation growth in parts of the state, and that growth could dry out and then end up driving fires later in the summer months when wildfire season is in full force.
- Along with the quickly growing wildfire in New Mexico, other sizeable blazes are currently burning in the Southwest and Southern California. In Arizona, a fire in east-central Arizona grew to more than 5,500 acres; evacuations have already begun in a small community and thousands more have been told to prepare to evacuate. In California, approximately 140 homes and ranches were potentially at risk as a brush fire in Santa Barbara County grew to more than 1,400 acres. Hundreds have already evacuated.
- A recent study examined wildfires in California in search of key drivers and discovered that the vast majority of wildfires in the state are caused by human activity. Researchers from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., the University of California Berkeley, and other institutions contributed to the study, which concluded that 95 percent of California wildfires are caused by human actions, and that even low levels of human activity in a specific region can have a measurable effect on the occurrence of fires in the region.
- Egyptian investigators found the cockpit voice recorder from the EgyptAir Flight 804, which crashed into the Mediterranean last month. Searchers found the black box but it was very badly damaged. Despite the damages, though, investigators said that the memory unit of the black box was still intact, which greatly increases the chances that investigators will be able to discern useful information from it to help explain the crash.
- A member of the British Parliament was shot and stabbed to death Thursday in an attack that has many confused and mourning. Jo Cox, a 41-year-old member of the center-left Labour Party, was brutally attacked and pronounced dead just an hour later. Police said that a 52-year-old man taken into custody is the only suspect, and it was later reported that the suspect may have ties to a neo-Nazi organization.
- Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen reportedly attempted to buy body armor and bulk ammunition from a gun store about five weeks prior to the mass shooting but the gun store turned him away. The gun store then alerted the FBI about the man and his suspicious behavior. The gun store didn't have the man's name, as no sale was made, and surveillance footage was very low quality.
- California Governor Jerry Brown said this week that he will not declare a state of emergency on California's homeless crisis. Brown's denial came after Los Angeles County supervisors voted unanimously this week to call for a state declaration of emergency in an effort to deal with California’s growing homelessness crisis. Brown's camp said that a gubernatorial declaration is not appropriate and said that the state will continue to support local governments in their battles against homelessness despite denying the request for an emergency declaration.
- Facebook first launched suicide prevention tools to some U.S. users in early 2015. Facebook recently updated the tools and has now link The tools allow friends to report someone who is acting suicidal or making comments about self-harm. Facebook can then take steps to reach out to the distressed user and offer him or her ways to find help.
— U.S. GAO (@USGAO) June 17, 2016