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EDM Monday Briefing: Increased Activity Observed at Grímsvötn Volcano

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for Monday, October 12, 2020: High winds and strong wind gusts challenged firefighters working the Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado; more PSPS are likely in the North Bay and Santa Cruz mountains in California beginning on Wednesday; many of the evacuation orders for Napa and Sonoma counties have been rescinded as firefighters gain control of the Glass Fire; the FDA announced that the voluntary recall for dog food produced by Sunshine Mills has been expanded to other brands and countries; a bus-train collision in Thailand has left at least 18 dead and dozens injured; two additional pharmaceutical companies have also recalled the popular diabetic drug metformin; seismologists in Iceland have elevated the aviation threat level for the Grímsvötn Volcano due to increased seismic activity, including a 4.3 earthquake; and firefighters have gained containment on the August Complex, which has burned nearly 1.029 million acres in California.

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1) A Red Flag Warning, along with a high wind warning, were in effect on Sunday in Colorado due to low humidity levels and high wind speeds. Widespread wind gusts from 40 to 65 mph were recorded across the state, and in Buckeye, a wind gust of 82 mph was recorded. The high winds prompted the closure of additional forest and national park lands to the south of the blaze, due to increased fire activity with the Cameron Peak Fire.

2) Forecast dangerous fire conditions this week are likely to prompt additional Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) by PG&E across the Bay Area in California. High winds and hot temperatures are forecast for Wednesday through Friday across the region, including in Napa and Sonoma counties, where the Glass Fire destroyed over 1,500 structures. The National Weather Service (NWS) noted that the warmest temperatures will be on Thursday and Friday due to offshore winds being at their highest. PG&E stated that the shutoffs were most likely to affect the North Bay mountains and areas within the Santa Cruz mountains, but specific cities and counties affected by the PSPS would likely be available by Tuesday so residents in those locations can ensure they are prepared.

3) CalFire has rescinded many of the evacuation orders for both Napa and Sonoma counties as they have gained containment on the Glass Fire. Information from CalFire shows that containment has now reached about 92%, and the number of crews and personnel assigned to fire has been reduced. However, some evacuation orders are still in place, along with some road closures. Fire officials are asking anyone returning home to use caution, as firefighters and emergency personnel are still working throughout the fire area.

4) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noted that the previous voluntary recall for select dog food issued by Sunshine Mills, Inc., has now been expanded. The recall, originally issued in early September, has now been expanded to additional dog food varieties including, but not limited to, Field Trial, Good Dog, Old Glory, and Pet Expert. The foods were distributed to stores across the United States and several other countries, and may contain higher-than-safe levels of aflatoxin, a naturally occurring mold that grows on a variety of crops, as well as on pet foods.

5) Eighteen people are dead in Thailand following a bus-train collision Sunday morning, about 31 miles east of Bangkok. Sixty people were on the bus when it collided with a freight train, which flipped the bus on its side. A crane was needed to put it upright. Dozens more were injured during the accident, and experts note that poor safety standards, along with busy roads, are likely key factors in the many deadly crashes across the nation each year.

6) Two additional companies have voluntarily recalled a popular diabetic drug due to it containing unacceptable levels of a cancer-causing agent. The latest two companies to join eight others who have already issued recalls of the extended-release metformin drug are Marksans Pharma, Ltd., and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., both of which are based in India. The issue was first detected by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May. The FDA noted that metformin, which is produced under different names, exceeded the agency’s acceptable limits of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a cancer-causing agent.

7) Iceland’s most active volcano may be on the verge of another eruption after seismologists noted a major rise in seismic activity. The volcano, Grímsvötn, last erupted in 2011. It disrupted air travel in and around Europe, closed Reykjavik’s Keflavik Airport and caused the cancellation of at least 900 flights. As of October 1, Iceland’s seismologists raised the Aviation Colour Code threat level to Yellow, indicating signs of elevated unrest above known background levels.

8) Fire officials now say the August Complex — multiple lightning-ignited fires that began on August 16 and 17 — is 75% contained. The massive wildfire, burning in the Mendocino, Six Rivers, and Shasta Trinity National Forests, has consumed more than 1.028 million acres. A total of 4,610 personnel have been assigned to the fire. Due to the fire’s expansive size, an Area Command Team is managing the multiple Incident Management Teams that are in command of different zones. Some road closures and evacuation orders are still in place, although in majority of the zones, fire activity has been limited. However, fire officials have stressed that the fire is still active.

9) Hurricane Delta slammed ashore in Louisiana as a Category 2 storm Friday night, leaving at least one person dead and nearly 350,000 people without power. The storm was predicted to make landfall as a major hurricane, but shearing winds reduced the storm’s intensity, which helped prevent additional damage to an area already struggling after Hurricane Laura hit six weeks ago. Heavy rainfall accompanied the storm, which moved into Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. The storm caused flooding that was blamed for washing out railroad tracks that derailed a train and started a fire near Atlanta.


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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