Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Erie, PA Buried Under 5 Feet of Snow, Thomas Fire 88 Percent Contained

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Erie, PA Buried Under 5 Feet of Snow, Thomas Fire 88 Percent Contained

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 27, 2017: Erie, Pa. breaks its two-day snow record with 60.5 inches of snow; police in Utah confronted an ax-wielding man wearing body armor; the history-making Thomas Fire is now 88 percent contained; a 17-year-old has been charged in the murders of a couple in Reston, Virginia; at least one person is dead after a gunman opened fire in a pastry shop in Russia; a Utah sheriff's deputy rescues a boy from a frozen pond; a man is in custody following a gun battle with police in Phoenix, Arizona; and frigid temperatures and lake effect snow are forecast for the Midwest and Northeastern United States.

1. Residents of Erie, Pennsylvania are still digging out from their record two-day snowfall of 60.5 inches that fell from 7:00 p.m. December 24 to 7:00 p.m. December 26. Much of the northeastern United States was covered in snow on Christmas, due to a weather system that moved throughout the region beginning on Monday. The system also made holiday travel difficult, and multiple flights were canceled or delayed departing from Boston's Logan International Airport.  

2. A Utah man wearing body armor and wielding a "battle ax" on Christmas morning was shot once by police. The man, Benjamin Dee Wilcken, 38, was allegedly threatening to detonate explosives and harm himself and neighboring residents on Monday when SWAT was called to the scene. After attempting to negotiate with the man during an hours-long standoff, police first used stun guns on Wilcken, which had no effect, then shot the man once in the chest after he allegedly threatened to attack police.

3. Firefighters in California are gaining the upper hand against the largest-ever wildfire that has plagued Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for weeks. The Thomas Fire has scorched an estimated 281,620 acres -- 440 square miles -- and destroyed more than 1,000 structures, damaged another 88 structures, and is being blamed for two deaths, including one firefighter. The blaze, which broke out on December 4 near Thomas Aquinas College, is now 88 percent contained and fire officials have lifted all mandatory evacuations, but the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

4. A 17-year-old in Reston, Virginia has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend's parents. The parents had recently discovered private texts that appeared to be anti-Semitic on their daughter's phone, originating from her boyfriend. School officials were notified. On Friday, the boyfriend allegedly entered the home and shot and killed Buckley Kuhn-Fricker, 43, and Scott Fricker, 48. The suspect, a minor, is in the hospital with life-threatening injuries, believed to be self-inflicted.

5. A gunman opened fire in a Russian pastry factory on Wednesday, killing one and taking an unknown number of people hostage. Police cordoned off the area and were attempting to make contact with the gunman in order to free the hostages. According to reports, at least two other people have been wounded in the attack, and preliminary reports suggest that the victim may have been a security guard at the factory.

6. A Utah sheriff's deputy rescued a boy from a pond of frigid water after he fell through the ice while chasing his dog that ran away on Monday. Sergeant Aaron Thompson broke through ice for about 25 feet in order to rescue the eight-year-old boy and was able to locate him in an area where a woman had reported seeing his hand minutes earlier. The boy, who was unconscious but had vital signs, was flown to Dixie Regional Medical Center and authorities were hopeful for his recovery.

7. On Tuesday, a man in Phoenix, Arizona was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, multiple counts of aggravated assault, and the assault of a police officer in what police believe was a domestic violence incident on Monday. Anthony Milan Ross, 45, allegedly killed his estranged wife and their two children on Monday, then barricaded himself in the apartment and after a brief gun battle with police, was arrested. One of the police officers was injured during the gun battle, most likely by shrapnel.

8. Residents from the Midwest to the Northeast are bracing themselves for yet another round of winter weather, even as frigid temperatures grip the region. Nineteen states are under wind chill warnings and advisories, while other states are facing winter storm warnings and more lake effect snowfalls, including Erie, Pennsylvania, Cleveland, Ohio, and Buffalo and Syracuse, New York. The heavy lake effect snows are being generated by cold arctic air moving over mild water temperatures in the Great Lakes.


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.