AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Arizona Wildfires Fueled by Weather Conditions

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 9, 2021: Gusty winds and high temperatures continue to fuel two wildfires in Arizona; the USPS has suspended mail service for several towns impacted by the Telegraph Fire in Arizona; a widespread internet outage Tuesday morning was attributed to a cloud-based service company in San Francisco; the port in Charleston, South Carolina, is on target to become the deepest East Coast port in 2022; officials opened a third spillway gate on the Morris Sheppard Dam in Texas on Monday; Georgia regulators and independent monitors suggest new reactors at Plant Vogtle may not be operational until the summer of 2022; the NHC is monitoring a low pressure system for development along the East Coast of Central America; and alert levels at the Gareloi volcano were raised due to detected seismic activity.

1. Gusty winds and high temperatures are fueling two wildfires in Arizona that have prompted various evacuation status alerts. The Mescal and Telegraph fires, which have scorched at least 138,700 acres, are being fought by nearly 1,000 firefighters under grueling conditions. The Telegraph Fire is exhibiting extreme fire behavior, including nighttime burning with downslope winds. The Mescal Fire, now 23% contained, continues to burn in remote and rugged terrain, although firefighters have successfully protected area infrastructure.

2. Extreme conditions associated with the Telegraph Fire have forced the United States Postal Service (USPS) to discontinue services in several communities impacted by the wildfire. Residents in Claypool, Globe and Miami are now able to pick up their mail from Payson with a valid picture identification. Residents in Bylas, Peridot and San Carlos should now retrieve their mail from the Safford Post Office. The USPS will continue to monitor the wildfire and update residents, as the situation remains fluid.

3. A cloud-based service company experienced a widespread outage for about an hour on Tuesday morning, affecting major websites around the globe.  Reddit, Twitch, Hulu, The New York Times and Amazon were among the companies impacted by the outage at Fastly, a widely-used San Francisco-based cloud service company. The outage revealed major vulnerabilities with the interconnectedness that exists among online systems. The issue appeared to be an internal technical problem, which the company was able to quickly resolve.

4. The Wando Welch Terminal achieved a depth of 52 feet in May, putting Charleston, South Carolina, on target to have the East Coast’s deepest harbor in 2022. The port welcomed the largest container ship in the world in May, the CMA CGM Marco Polo. The massive container ship helped South Carolina ports achieve their second highest monthly container volume on record, at 230,870 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).

5. A third spillway gate on the Morris Sheppard Dam, northwest of Fort Worth, Texas, was opened on Monday due to high water levels in the Possum Kingdom Lake. Authorities closed a bridge downstream on Highway 16 due to the high and rapidly rising water levels. Officials cautioned visitors and residents to avoid the Brazos River area and placed the Horseshoe Bend area under voluntary evacuation orders as water levels continued to rise.

6. An unexpected array of quality issues continues to plague Plant Vogtle, further delaying the start of its two new reactors. Georgia regulators, along with independent monitors, noted that the issues will delay the opening until at least the summer of 2022, a statement with which the company disagrees. Costs for the project are likely to rise by another $2 billion, but the nuclear generating stations will reliably power two million homes and businesses in Georgia with carbon-free electricity for decades.

7. Hurricane season is underway for 2021, and the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is monitoring a low pressure system in the southwest Caribbean Sea for development. The low pressure system has less than a 10% chance of developing as it moves northwestward along the Central American East Coast. Regardless of its development, the system will likely bring heavy rainfall across northern Colombia and parts of Central America over the weekend.

8. The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) noted elevated seismic activity in relation to the Gareloi Volcano in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Sulphur dioxide emissions were also detected over the past weekend, prompting the AVO to increase the alert levels associated with the volcano. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Yellow and the Alert Level was raised to Advisory, indicating the volcano is exhibiting signs of unrest beyond normal observations.


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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