AMU Emergency Management Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: High-Rise Building in Bangladesh Had No Fire Extinguishing System

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for March 29, 2019: Fort Lauderdale suffered a partial blackout after a lighting strike and substation fire; Mitsui & Co. is being sued by Harris County and the State of Texas after its massive chemical fire; a gunman opened fire in a street in Seattle, killing two people and wounding two others; the death toll has climbed after a high-rise fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh; an Illinois State Trooper was killed in the line of duty during a vehicle stop on Thursday; Mozambique will begin a cholera vaccination campaign next week in the wake of Cyclone Idai; eighteen people are dead after being run over by a tractor-trailer in Guatemala; and for the second time in less than two years, the U.S. Air Force has grounded its fleet of B-1B bombers.

1) A lightning strike that hit an electrical substation plunged much of the City of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida into darkness Tuesday night. When the lightning struck, fire erupted immediately, and several explosions were heard at the Florida Power & Light (FPL) substation as much of the city experienced a blackout. The lightning strike and ensuing fire left about 32,000 homes and businesses without power, and crews were working quickly to restore service in the area once the fire was extinguished.

2) The state of Texas, along with Harris County, jointly filed suit against Mitsui & Co.’s Intercontinental Terminals (ITC) after a days-long fire caused widespread damages and saw costly economic impacts. The lawsuit seeks reimbursement for emergency responders, temporary air and water monitoring, and healthcare workers. According to reports, the company was already under investigation when the fire erupted. The blaze released multiple hazardous chemicals into the air and water, which forced school, road, and inland waterway closures in its aftermath.

3) Two people are dead and two wounded after a gunman walked into a street in Seattle and opened fire on random targets. The gunman, Tad Michael Norman, 33, stepped into the street and opened fire Wednesday afternoon, striking a woman driver and then a metro bus driver. Norman then fatally shot the driver of a Toyota Prius, carjacked the vehicle and collided with another vehicle head-on, killing that driver. The suspect was apprehended by police after a brief standoff, although authorities are still unsure of the motive for the shooting.

4) A high-rise fire that broke out in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, on Thursday has killed at least 25 people, including some who jumped to their death, and injured at least 70. Others remained trapped for some time by the inferno. The multi-story office building, the FR Tower, is situated in the upscale Banani area of the city. Firefighters used ladders and helicopters — operated by military specialists — to rescue more than 100 people from the burning building throughout the afternoon. Officials revealed on Friday morning that the building did not have a proper fire extinguishing system, while firefighters continued to comb through the worst affected floors — the 8th through the 10th floors — for more bodies.

5) An Illinois state trooper was fatally struck by another vehicle during a traffic stop on Thursday. A semi-truck combination vehicle veered off the roadway and struck the squad car of Trooper Brooke Jones-Storey, 34, smashed into the commercial vehicle she was conducting an inspection on, and fatally struck the state trooper. The crash set both commercial vehicles on fire, but there were no other injuries reported due to the crash.

6) Five confirmed cases of cholera have been diagnosed in Mozambique in areas ravaged by Cyclone Idai. The World Health Organization (WHO) said that Mozambique will begin a vaccination campaign next week to help prevent the spread of the disease in the wake of the devastation from Cyclone Idai. The cyclone caused catastrophic flooding that trapped thousands of people in their villages for more than a week without access to clean drinking water.

7) Authorities in Guatemala stated that 18 people are dead after a tractor-trailer slammed into a large group of people and ran over them. A group of people had gathered to inspect an individual who was killed earlier in an accident when the truck plowed into them on the dark highway. Fire officials noted that multiple other people were being treated for serious injuries after the incident, the worst in the nation since 2013.

8) For the second time in less than two years, the U.S. Air Force has grounded its fleet of B-1B bombers — again due to an ejection seat issue. The grounding, which according to officials should last less than a month, comes after an issue with the ejection-seat’s drogue-parachute was found. On a routine inspection, an airmen found a rigged drogue-parachute incorrectly installed, and concern that other planes could have the same issue prompted the grounding of all the same-type aircraft.


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.

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