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EDM Monday Briefing: Arizona Wildfires Prompt Evacuations, Road Closures

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 7, 2021: Two wildfires burning in Arizona prompt evacuation orders and road closures; the USGS CVO reported an earthquake swarm under Mount Hood; Amsterdam begins a 20-year, $2 billion euro reconstruction of its crumbling infrastructure; Luma Energy has undertaken the daunting task of upgrading Puerto Rico’s electrical transmission and distribution; a 5.3 magnitude earthquake struck near the Salton Sea on Saturday; another Australian government agency announced it was impacted by the global Accellion cyberattack in January; a Red Flag Warning has been issued for the Lake Tahoe Basin by the NWS for Monday; and cybersecurity experts forecast worldwide ransomware attacks to exceed $265 billion by 2031.

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1. A wildfire burning in southcentral Arizona prompted authorities to issue evacuation orders for some area residents near Peridot. The wind-driven wildfire scorched approximately 12 square miles and was only 5% contained as of Saturday. A second wildfire burning east of Phoenix is exhibiting extreme fire behavior and prompted the ordering of a top-tier incident command team to manage the incident. The Mescal Fire exploded from 26,000 to 38,000 acres from Saturday to Sunday amid drought conditions and temperatures hovering near 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The rapidly expanding wildfire prompted both evacuations and area road closures.

2. The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) reported an earthquake swarm on Saturday near Mount Hood, Oregon. The largest earthquake registered at a 3.9 magnitude, just south of the summit of Mount Hood, on June 5. Tens of aftershocks were recorded, and the CVO noted that the swarm is consistent with previous earthquake swarms located near Mount Hood. 

3. The city of Amsterdam lies below sea level, was built on a swamp, and relies on millions of wood pilings as its foundation — pilings that were built to only support the weight of horses and carriages. Time, along with modern vehicles, have caused negative impacts to this infrastructure. Now, canals and bridges are crumbling, and sinkholes are opening up across the city. To address the issue before a catastrophic incident occurs, officials launched a 20-year, $2 billion euro (or more) reconstruction project that locals say will change the look of the centuries-old city. 

4. A private company has taken over Puerto Rico’s electric power authority as the 2021 hurricane season gets underway. The company, Luma Energy, is a consortium consisting of Atco — a Calgary, Alberta-based company — and Quanta Services Inc. of Houston, Texas. The company is tasked with upgrading the grid’s transmission and distribution system, while helping to reduce outages and the lengths of those outages

5. A 5.3 magnitude earthquake struck Calipatria, California, on Saturday at around 10:55 a.m. local time, at a shallow depth of 3.6 miles. The quake was part of an earthquake swarm near the Salton Sea, south of Palm Springs, California, that included at least 47 earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.5 or greater. The Salton Sea is a landlocked body of water with a high salt content, situated at the south end of the San Andreas Fault. Known as the Brawley seismic zone, the region connects the San Andreas Fault to the Imperial Fault in Southern California. 

6. Another Australian government agency announced it was impacted by the global Accellion cyberattack in January. New South Wales (NSW) Health announced that some individual data, including identity information and some personal, health-related information, appears to have been accessed during the hack. It is just one of more than 100 companies impacted by the zero-day vulnerability of the Accellion software. 

7. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Red Flag Warning for the Lake Tahoe Basin until 11 p.m. on Monday. A previous Watch was upgraded as conditions deteriorated; gusty winds and low humidity levels are predicted for the area on Monday. Sustained winds of 15-25 mph, along with wind gusts of up to 45 mph, and humidity levels of 7 to 20% are forecast for the region. Fires can ignite and spread rapidly under these conditions, and officials are urging residents to use caution with any ignition sources. 

8. Ransomware attacks worldwide are forecast to exceed $265 billion by 2031; high ransom demands could cripple many organizations, government agencies and consumers. The attacks work by exploiting software vulnerabilities and encrypting files, which lock out users. After the lockout, a demand for money or cryptocurrency is made and must be paid before the decryption key is provided. There has been a large jump in ransomware attacks since 2015, and cybersecurity experts estimate ransomware costs to reach approximately $20 billion in 2021. 

  

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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