Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Firefighters Injured While Fighting Dolan Fire
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Firefighters Injured While Fighting Dolan Fire

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Firefighters Injured While Fighting Dolan Fire

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 9, 2020: Wildfires continue to rage in California amid intense heat and strong winds; firefighters had to deploy shelters after becoming entrapped while fighting the Dolan Fire; rapid growth of the Creek Fire forced multiple rescues with the use of military helicopters; a citywide ransomware attack delayed the start of schools in Hartford; a rare earthquake rattled residents in New Jersey early Wednesday morning; Red Flag Warnings are in effect for large swaths of the West Coast as Oregon declares a wildfire emergency; the NWS is watching two tropical systems that are now churning in the Atlantic Basin; and many locations in Colorado saw record heat Sunday and woke up to snow on Tuesday.

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1) Wildfires in California continue to rage amid another heat wave that gripped the region over the Labor Day weekend. Intense heat, dry conditions, and high winds fueled wildfires and prompted PSPS (Public Service Power Shutoffs (PSPS) that affected more than 170,000 customers. The Dolan Fire doubled in size from Monday night to Tuesday, scorching nearly 75,000 acres, while the rapidly growing Creek Fire, which began Friday, has destroyed over 135,600 acres and forced multiple evacuations.

2) Three firefighters are hospitalized, one in critical condition, following a shelter deployment in the Dolan Fire. According to a statement by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), a total of 15 firefighters had to use a shelter deployment to protect themselves while defending the USFS Nacimiento Station from the rapidly approaching wildfire. The burnover severely injured two of the firefighters, who suffered burns and smoke inhalation. The Nacimiento Station was completely destroyed.

3) Rapid growth of the Creek Fire forced evacuations in Madera and Fresno counties and trapped hundreds of people enjoying the outdoor wilderness near Fresno, prompting the need for helicopter rescues. Military helicopters, including Blackhawks, Chinooks, and a Navy Seahawk, were used to rescue people and their pets who were trapped in the wilderness by the swiftly approaching wildfire. Roadblocks established due to the fire hampered evacuation efforts by residents who were also attempting to flee the advancing flames.

4) A citywide ransomware attack delayed the start of the school year in Hartford, Connecticut. The cyberattack affected critical systems within the Hartford Public Schools, and software engineers were unable to restore those systems prior to the first day of school on Tuesday. The ransomware attack also impacted the city's communication abilities for sending bus routes to the transportation company that runs the buses for the school district.

5) A rare earthquake rattled New Jersey in the very early hours of Wednesday morning. The quake, which occurred just before 2:00 a.m., was centered 1.25 miles south-southeast of East Freehold, at a shallow depth of about 3.1 miles. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the quake was a 3.1 magnitude. Although it caused shaking over a large area, there were no reports of damages.

6) Red Flag Warnings have been issued for a large swath of the West Coast, amid critical fire weather conditions, including high heat, low humidity, and strong winds. Swift-moving fires prompted the governor to issue a wildfire emergency in Oregon after rapidly advancing wildfires burned through at least two towns, including Talent and Mill City, and forced the evacuation of thousands of people. Advancing wildfires also forced the closure of a 25-mile portion of I-5, turned the skies red and reduced air quality in the area due to the heavy smoke.

7) The peak of hurricane season has produced two additional named systems in the Atlantic Basin — Paulette and Rene. Paulette is now a tropical storm churning in the Atlantic Ocean, with wind speeds of about 60 mph, and it is forecast to turn to the north-northeast. Rene, which has now restrengthened into a tropical storm, is forecast to become a hurricane within the next couple of days and will continue its movement to the northwest. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is also closely watching a tropical wave that is forecast to move off the coast of Africa on Thursday and has a high chance of development (80%) over the next five days.

8) Record-breaking high temperatures were recorded across several cities in Colorado over the holiday weekend, including in Fort Collins, where Sunday's high reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The National Weather Service (NWS) then issued a winter storm watch for Monday-Tuesday for much of the region, with temperatures plummeting and snow being forecast. Residents of several cities, including Fort Collins and Denver, woke up Tuesday morning to snowfall, including trace amounts of accumulation — the earliest September snowfall ever recorded for some locations throughout the region.

 

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.