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AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Explosion Rocks Downtown Madrid, Kills at Least 3

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 20, 2021: An explosion in Madrid has killed at least three people; Red Flag Warnings and high winds ignited multiple small wildfires in California; high winds and critical fire weather prompted PSPS for nearly 250,000 customers across California; a sinkhole that occurred after a rainstorm in Oregon cut off access to area homes; Pepperoni Hot Pockets are being recalled for alleged foreign material contamination; high winds toppled trees and power lines across northern Utah; select milk chocolates produced in Vermont are being recalled due to potential contamination with hard plastic; and Malwarebytes announced it was hacked by the same group that attacked SolarWinds.

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1) An explosion that ripped through a building in Madrid, Spain, on Wednesday afternoon has left at least three people dead. Substantial damage occurred to the six-story building from the blast, which was reportedly due to a gas leak, with the top floors completely destroyed by the explosion . According to the city’s mayor, at least two other people were injured, and nearby buildings, including a school, were also damaged from the blast.

2) Much of Southern California was under a Red Flag Warning on Tuesday, which has extended into Wednesday for some locations. High winds and dry conditions elevated fire weather conditions and prompted several wildfires to ignite across the region. Several wildfires began in the CZU Complex burn scar, and other wildfires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties prompted evacuations of about 120 homes.

3) High winds and critical fire weather conditions across much of California prompted Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) by area power companies, including PG&E and Southern California Edison. As of midday Tuesday, at least 240,000 customers were without power due to PSPS, and another 260,000 were warned that their power could also be cut. Winds across the region reached hurricane strength, with some Sacramento to Bay Area locations reporting wind gusts of 90-100 mph.

4) A sinkhole opened in Clackamas County, Oregon, cutting off access to at least a dozen homes for residents and for critical services, including emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances. The county is installing a bridge typically used by the military to allow vehicles up to 30,000 pounds to cross the sinkhole, which was caused when an old pipe failed after a recent rainstorm. County officials noted that permanent work to replace the pipe and repair the sinkhole will likely begin sometime in June.

5) A food recall has been announced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for 762,615 pounds of Pepperoni Hot Pockets. The recall was issued after the Not-Ready-To-Eat Hot Pockets, produced by Nestlé Prepared Foods, were found to reportedly contain foreign materials, specifically glass and hard plastic. The product being recalled was produced from November 13-16, 2020, has a shelf life of 14 months and was distributed to retail locations nationwide.

6) Schools were delayed, homes damaged and power cut after high winds whipped through several counties in Utah. Winds of up to 70 mph moved through Davis and Weber counties, along with Salt Lake City, early Tuesday, toppling trees and power lines, along with transmission infrastructure. The Utah Division of Emergency Management noted peak winds in several locations across northern Utah were 69 mph, with an 80 mph gust at Ogden Peak.

7) Select milk chocolate products have been voluntarily recalled by the Champlain Chocolate Company due to potential foreign matter contamination. The recall, announced by the Food and Drug Administration on January 16, notes that brittle plastic was found in some of the chocolate products currently on the market that were produced by the company from June 2020 through January 2021. Seven products are impacted by the recall, including Five Star Bars and Chocolates of Vermont Green Mountain, which were distributed throughout the United States and sold at the company’s three retail locations in Vermont.

8) Another cybersecurity firm announced Tuesday that it had been hacked by the same group that breached SolarWinds last year. Malwarebytes, the U.S. firm that revealed the breach, noted that the attack occurred when the hackers exploited a dormant email protection product within its Microsoft Office 365 tenant. According to the company, it does not use any of SolarWinds software in its internal network. It was notified on December 15 of the breach by the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC), which identified suspicious activity within the dormant product.

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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