AMU Emergency Management Public Safety

EDM Monday Briefing: Summer Firefighting Costs Exceed $300 Million in Alaska

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 9, 2019: Authorities in Fayetteville, Arkansas, say one of their officers was ambushed and executed while sitting in his vehicle; a volcanic eruption on White Island off New Zealand has killed at least five people; a dramatic increase in the Victorian-era disease, scarlet fever, is occurring in England and Wales; Florida authorities have arrested a 12-year-old girl for her death list threat on social media to students at Falcon Cove Middle School; a state audit of three counties in California points to disaster planning gaps related to vulnerable populations; 43 people died in a fire at an overcrowded garment factory in New Delhi, India; the FBI is investigating the mass shooting at the Naval Air Station Pensacola as an act of terror; and state and federal costs for firefighting during Alaska’s summer months has surpassed $300 million.

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1) Fayetteville, Arkansas, patrol officer Stephen Carr was ambushed, shot and killed while sitting in his car in the police department parking lot as he waited for his partner. Officers inside the police department heard gunshots and immediately responded, chasing an armed suspect, London Phillips, 35, down an alley. Officers engaged the allegedly armed suspect and shots were fired. The suspected gunman was struck and killed at the scene.

2) A volcanic eruption on White Island on Monday in New Zealand, killed at least five people and left others unaccounted for, including tourists off Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas cruise ship. Dangerous conditions produced by the eruption prevented first responders and rescue teams from accessing the island immediately, although of the 50 people believed to have been on the island, 23 were allegedly taken from the island after the eruption. According to reports, there were no signs of life during recent reconnaissance flights over the island by law enforcement.

3) England and Wales are experiencing an outbreak of scarlet fever, a bacterial disease that is highly contagious and causes a pink red rash that feels like sandpaper. According to health officials, there has been a sharp rise since 2013 in the number of cases of scarlet fever, from just over 4,360 cases to 17,829 cases in 2016. In 2018, health experts in Britain noted in a medical journal that the Victorian-era disease, after years of decline, is again on the rise.

4) A 12-year-old girl was arrested in Weston, Florida, after posting a threat to kill students at her middle school on Monday. Police were alerted to the threat by a parent who saw the social media post. After an intense investigation, law enforcement identified the individual before the end of the night on Friday. Police also noted that the Snapchat threat included a death list of students from Falcon Cove Middle School that were to be killed on Monday.

5) A recently released report of an audit conducted by the State of California revealed gaps in disaster planning in Butte, Sonoma and Ventura counties. The in-depth report noted that inadequate planning led to missing warnings and aid in Butte County, which likely contributed to a confusing evacuation effort during the 2018 Camp Fire that killed 85 people. The report also highlighted deficiencies in addressing vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and those who speak limited English.

6) A fire on Sunday at a factory in New Delhi, India, killed at least 43 people who were sleeping between shifts when the blaze broke out. There were about 100 workers — primarily Muslim migrants from the Eastern state of Bihar — sleeping in the cramped garment factory when the deadly fire broke out. The fire, which reportedly began from an electrical short-circuit, caused the release of poisonous gases that were likely inhaled by workers, causing their deaths.

7) The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stated that they are investigating last Friday’s mass shooting in Pensacola, Florida, which killed three victims and wounded eight others, as an act of terror. New information released reveals that the shooting suspect, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21, a Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant training in the United States, had invited three other Saudi students to dinner and shown them videos of mass shootings. The FBI does not believe the three students were involved in the attack. An investigation into the incident, including social media posts allegedly made by the suspect that are critical of America, is ongoing.

8) State and federal firefighting costs over the summer months in Alaska have now soared past $300 million. Alaska’s Division of Forestry spent a whopping $224.9 million, the U.S. Forest Service reported $7 million in expenses, and the U.S. Department of the Interior had expenses of $72 million in 2019. The state will apply for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which, if awarded to Alaska, could reduced state firefighting costs from $142 million to between $30-35 million. As of November 23, wildfires in the state, many of which burned dangerously close to populated areas, scorched a total of 4,188 square miles, or more than 2.68 million acres.


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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