Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: Conditions Hamper Firefighters on Cameron Peak Fire
EDM Monday Briefing: Conditions Hamper Firefighters on Cameron Peak Fire

EDM Monday Briefing: Conditions Hamper Firefighters on Cameron Peak Fire

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for October 19, 2020: Tropical Depression 27 has formed in the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast of Bermuda; several new wildfires prompted mandatory evacuations in Utah and Colorado; record snowfall fell across the Billings area on Sunday; the new CalWood Fire was allegedly human-caused and destroyed multiple homes with its rapid spread; NOAA damage totals highlight the August derecho as the most costly thunderstorm event ever recorded in U.S. history; the Cameron Peak Fire burned close to Loveland on Saturday, fueled by high winds and dry fuels that hampered firefighter efforts; the driver of a Belington VFD tower truck underwent emergency surgery after the truck was struck by an oversized load; and several websites are available to assist firefighters, officials, and residents with wildfire information, resources, and management.

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1) The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is monitoring an area to the southeast of Bermuda for additional development. Tropical Depression 27 formed early Monday morning, and conditions are favorable for tropical cyclone formation by late Tuesday or Wednesday, with the system forecast to become a hurricane later in the week. An Atlantic High Seas Gale Warning has been issued by the NHC, with wave heights on average between 8 and 17 feet. Individual wave heights could potentially be more than twice as high.

2) Several new wildfires prompted evacuations in Utah and Colorado over the weekend. The new fires burning in Utah include the Fire Canyon Fire, which was allegedly human-caused, and the Range Fire, which forced a temporary closure of the Provo Canyon due to the wildfire burning near the canyon mouth. The Range Fire is estimated at about 3,000 acres. Its cause is currently under investigation, while the Fire Canyon fire has scorched about 1,500 acres.

3) Record snowfall fell across the Billings, Montana, area on Sunday, and tree branches covered in leaves were weighed down. Others snapped, causing minor power outages. The area received anywhere from five to over 12 inches of snow in locations northwest of the city. Rain changed over to snow beginning on Saturday, and by Monday, precipitation is forecast to return to rain or freezing rain. City officials have urged drivers to use caution when traveling on slick roadways.

4) Firefighters deployed all available aircraft as weather allowed in their initial attack on Sunday against a new fire burning near Boulder, Colorado, about 50 miles to the southeast of the Cameron Peak Fire. The cause of the CalWood fire, which began Saturday afternoon, is currently unknown. The wildfire is burning in steep, rugged terrain that makes firefighting access difficult. Dry and windy conditions caused the fire to spread rapidly Sunday. The blaze prompted mandatory evacuations, destroyed homes and left at least 8,788 acres burned.

5) In August, a rare derecho swept through central Iowa, causing widespread damage and destruction. According to recent figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the sustained line of thunderstorms that traveled 770 miles from South Dakota and through Ohio in just 14 hours caused $7.5 billion in damages. The staggering amount makes the derecho the most costly thunderstorm event ever recorded in U.S. history, with the cost of damages likely to increase amid continued assessments.

6) High winds caused extreme fire behavior and the swift spread of the Cameron Peak Fire on Friday and Saturday, which sent flames dangerously close to Loveland, Colorado. The blaze forced additional evacuations and destroyed more homes. Winds, coupled with the difficult terrain and plenty of available dry, fine fuels, hampered firefighters’ efforts on Saturday. Evacuation orders and closures remain in place, and forecasts call for increased drying, low humidity levels, and gusty winds at least through Wednesday.

7) The driver of a fire truck sustained minor injuries and had to undergo emergency surgery in West Virginia on Friday after its department’s tower truck was struck. According to reports, two firefighters were onboard a Belington Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) truck when it was hit by an oversized load as they were en route to pay respects to a fallen firefighter in Taylor County, West Virginia. Although the tower truck was damaged, Belington VFD fire officials assured residents fire services would not be interrupted due to the incident.

8) Several sites are available to assist firefighters, officials, and public residents to stay abreast of current wildfires that may impact their communities. InciWeb offers an interactive mapping resource with comprehensive information regarding current wildfires. The site is an interagency, all-risk incident information management system, and while primarily used for wildland fires, it can also be used for other natural disasters and emergency incidents, including earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes. A collection of resources for individuals or emergency and disaster management professionals to learn more about wildfire response and management is available through the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) webpage. The site also includes whole community involvement and training resources, with links to additional resources for community risk reduction.

 

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.