Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: Naval Ship Erupts In Fire in San Diego
EDM Monday Briefing: Naval Ship Erupts In Fire in San Diego

EDM Monday Briefing: Naval Ship Erupts In Fire in San Diego


Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 13, 2020: A fire erupted on a U.S. Navy ship undergoing routine maintenance in San Diego; two Texas police officers are dead after an ambush shooting; the Ojo de los Casos Fire is being called a dirty burn by firefighters; California firefighters' pay is cut due to budget issues stemming from the response to COVID-19; a lightning-sparked wildfire erupted south of Tucson on Saturday; a NOAA graphic gives simple a explanation of how Doppler radar works, what it detects, and how it's detected; the NWS has issued a Red Flag Warning for portions of at least four states in the west due to critical fire weather; and the Numbers Fire is near containment in southern Nevada.

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1) Thick, dark smoke filled the skies of San Diego on Sunday as a fire erupted on a U.S. Navy ship undergoing routine maintenance at its base on Sunday. The amphibious assault ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, caught fire Sunday morning and caused an explosion that injured 17 sailors and four civilians. According to Navy officials, the blaze started in the lower vehicle storage area and was likely caused by a backdraft of overpressurization as the compartment started heating up.

2) Two officers responding to a domestic disturbance call on Saturday in McAllen, Texas, were shot and killed. The McAllen Police Department identified the officers as Edelmiro Garza, 45, and Ismael Chavez, 39, as the individuals who were gunned down. Authorities are saying the shooting was an ambush. The suspect, Audon Ignacio Camarillo, 23, died a short time later of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

3) Wildfire season is in full force with multiple wildfires burning in the western part of the United States. The Ojo de los Casos Fire in New Mexico is now considered a dirty burn, although firefighters did make progress in achieving 38 percent containment as of Sunday. The ultimate goal of an incident command team is to achieve full containment of a wildfire, but "dirty burns" make it difficult to attain. A dirty burn means that there are many patches of burned and unburned fuels along the ground, and the unburned fuels can hide lingering heat. As a result, a fire can ignite and rapidly spread.

4) Addressing COVID-19 has caused budget issues in California, prompting the state to cut salaries for many of its employees. Firefighters were among those impacted by the budget cuts — cuts that had to be negotiated with the CalFire union, CalFire Local 2881 — and be completed by July 1. The result was a 7.5 percent cut in total wages, with a 3.1 percent cut in take home pay and a 4.4 percent cut in retirement health care benefits.

5) Severe weather descended on Tucson, Arizona, Saturday evening and lightning sparked a new wildfire on the Navarro Ranch, just south of the city. So far, the blaze has scorched 1,100 acres and firefighting crews were working to protect residences nearby at the Cisco Ranch neighborhood. No evacuations have been ordered, and at least 150 personnel have been assigned to the wildfire.

6) Doppler radar is a critical tool that assists weather forecasters in determining severe weather and its impact in order to provide appropriate watches and warnings to protect the public. A graphic by NOAA provides a clear and simple explanation regarding how Doppler radar works — through radio waves  — along with what it detects and how it's detected. Reflectivity, velocity, dual-polarization and precipitation are the four key elements of what radar tells us regarding current weather conditions.

7) Red Flag Warnings are in effect for parts of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah for Monday and into Tuesday for some locations. The National Weather Service (NWS) is expecting humidity levels in some locations to drop to 8 percent, with a threat of severe thunderstorms for parts of Utah on Monday. High temperatures, gusty winds, and dry fuels, along with the low relative humidity, are favorable for the rapid ignition, growth, and spread of wildfires and often contribute to extreme fire behavior.

8) The Numbers Fire, burning southeast of Gardnerville, Nevada, is now nearly 100 percent contained. The wildfire has scorched a total of 28.6 square miles (18,342 acres), but the Red Flag Warning that is currently in effect could lead to a resurgence of the blaze with extreme fire behavior and rapid growth. The incident command team also noted that although the fire is near full containment, firefighters and heavy equipment will remain in the area for the next several days for repair work, including contingency fire lines.


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.