Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Ammonium Nitrate May Be Cause of Beirut Explosion
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Ammonium Nitrate May Be Cause of Beirut Explosion

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Ammonium Nitrate May Be Cause of Beirut Explosion


Emergency and disaster management briefing for August 5, 2020: A massive and deadly explosion that rocked the port of Beirut in Lebanon was likely caused by stored ammonium nitrate; Hurricane Isaias sparked multiple structure fires after it made landfall in Ocean Isle Beach; Isaias prompted nearly 100 tornado warnings and caused widespread power outages along the East Coast; a search and rescue crew from Andersen AFB found three missing mariners on a remote island in Yap; Isaias-spawned severe winds and a possible tornado damaged a hospital and child care facility in Doylestown; fire season is in full swing and California fire officials urge mitigation, planning, and action by residents; the Vine Street Expressway Bridge is temporarily closed in both directions after an unsecured barge slammed into a bridge pylon; and the FBI opens at least 300 investigations into domestic terrorism following riots across the nation.

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management degree at American Military University.

1) A deadly and devastating explosion in the port of Beirut in Lebanon on Tuesday killed at least 100 people and injured thousands more. Search and rescue efforts continue across the city, where damage caused by the massive blast and shockwaves destroyed buildings and homes up to 10 miles away. According to Lebanese officials, damage to the main port will top $3 billion. Much of the area was flattened by the blast, which was likely caused by a fire that ignited 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at the port.

2) Isaias made landfall late Monday night near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of at least 85 mph with higher gusts. The storm brought at least three feet of floodwaters to the area and spawned multiple tornadoes in the state. One of the tornadoes killed two people, injured several and left at least three people missing in Bertie County. The storm also cut power to thousands and sparked multiple structure fires in Ocean Isle Beach.

3) As Tropical Storm Isaias made its way up the East Coast, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued nearly 100 tornado warnings across multiple states, including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. More than 3.3 million customers were without power on Tuesday morning after the storm wreaked havoc all along the I-95 corridor. The storm disrupted the Staten Island Ferry in New York, along with outdoor subway lines. In North Myrtle Beach, the storm surge waves collapsed a large section of the Sea Cabin Pier late Monday.

4) Three mariners were found and rescued from a small, remote Pacific Island by a KC-135 crew from Andersen Air Force Base. The three went missing on July 29 after taking a skiff from Puluwat Atoll to travel to Pulap, Chuuk, 21 nautical miles away. However, they never made it to their destination. A coordinated effort that included the Hawaii Air National Guard, the 171st Air Refueling Wing, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Australian Navy made the search and rescue successful. The three mariners were rescued on August 3 from the tiny Pikelot Yap island in the Federated States of Micronesia.

5) Four children and two teachers were injured when strong winds ripped off part of the roof of a child care center in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Tropical Storm Isaias moved through the area Tuesday around 11:00, and its high winds ripped off the roof of the child care center, while the fierce winds also damaged parts of the nearby Doylestown Hospital. Officials are working to determine if a tornado spawned by Isaias was responsible for the widespread damage.

6) The Pond Fire burning near Santa Margarita in San Luis Obispo County, has scorched over 2,500 acres, destroyed two structures and is threatening at least 200 others. Multiple fires are burning in California and the wildfire season is in full swing. Fire officials are urging residents to ensure their homes have defensible space, which helps assist firefighters in protecting their homes and outbuildings. Readyforwildfire.org offers comprehensive information to help homeowners and businesses mitigate, plan, and act to protect their loved ones and their properties — along with the lives of firefighters — should a wildfire threaten them.

7) An unsecured barge slammed into a bridge pylon that takes I-676 over the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. Transportation officials closed the Vine Street Expressway Bridge after heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Isaias led to a swollen river that likely dislodged an unsecured construction barge and slammed it against the bridge. According to officials, they are waiting for the water to recede somewhat before the barge can be towed. Drivers should expect to experience detours into the city of Philadelphia until at least Thursday.

8) The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has launched at least 300 domestic terrorism investigations after violence and rioting across the nation that began on May 28. The cases do not include any potential civil rights investigations or violent crime that was associated with the riots that have taken place. The information was released at a Senate Committee hearing chaired by Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who noted that while "peaceful protests must be protected, riots must be stopped."


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.