AMU Emergency Management Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Residents in Sonoma Recovering from 2017 Tubbs Fire

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 1, 2020: Electrical equipment damage from wildfires prompts widespread power outages in Utah; heat advisories are being issued for Central states as heat indices are forecast to hit triple digits; the Mahogany Fire has received additional firefighting resources as containment grows to 10 percent; many states remain under flood watches and warnings as more heavy rainfall is expected across the Midwest; high temperatures, dry conditions, and gusty winds are fueling wildfires across the West; Sonoma residents are recovering following the 2017 Tubbs Fire that decimated more than 5,300 homes; nearly half the homes in a small town near the Salton Sea have been totally destroyed by a wind-whipped wildfire; and heavy rainfall across southeastern Massachusetts caused flash floods and flooded a hospital.

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1) Extensive damage to electrical equipment from recent wildfires caused widespread power outages in Utah. Rocky Mountain Power noted that the fires, which were centralized in a relatively small area, were unusually strong and moved quickly, hampering equipment protection efforts. The company, which provides power to 80 percent of the state, stated that restoring power to some affected households will be a challenge due to damaged lines and poles, many of which need to be replaced.

2) Extreme heat and humidity are building across the Central U.S., prompting widespread heat advisories in the Plains states. Portions of Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas have been placed under heat advisories as temperatures soar into the upper 90s and heat indices reach into the triple digits. Weather forecasters warn that heat illnesses may occur unless residents take precautions to stay cool and hydrated.

3) More resources have arrived to help battle the Mahogany Fire outside Las Vegas, which has been mapped at 2,794 acres. The wildfire is burning in steep, rugged terrain that is difficult for firefighters to access, so they are being assisted by air attack resources. According to fire officials, the cause of the blaze is under investigation. At least 420 firefighters are fighting the wildfire, which progressed to being 10 percent contained as of Tuesday night.

4) Recent severe weather has produced heavy rainfalls across the Midwest, prompting flood watches and warnings for much of Illinois, southern Indiana, and Kentucky. Heavy rainfall is expected to continue in the area through Thursday morning, affecting much of the Ohio River Valley. The National Weather Service (NWS) also notes that portions of Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama face localized flooding and flash flood risks amid a forecast of heavy rainfall through Thursday morning.

5) The Charleston Fire rapidly consumed nearly 500 acres in Colorado on Tuesday and forced the evacuation of hundreds of families. High temperatures and dry conditions, along with gusty winds, have fueled wildfires in several states in the West, including Nevada, Utah, California, and Arizona. Colorado is fighting multiple fires in the southwest portion of the state, including many locations that are under Red Flag Warnings.

6) Three years after the devastating Tubbs Fire decimated entire communities in the Sonoma Valley, residents are recovering. A total of 5,334 homes were destroyed when the wildfire swept through the area in October of 2017, although 68 percent of the homes have already been rebuilt. However, government officials say that the remaining gap of the nearly one-third of homes that have not been rebuilt can be attributed to several issues, including underinsurance by homeowners — many with six figure gaps — and inflated construction costs.

7) A small town near the Salton Sea in the Southern desert area of California has been decimated by a wind-driven wildfire. The fire erupted in Niland on Sunday evening and quickly ripped through the poor agriculture community, located about 100 miles to the east of San Diego. The wind-whipped blaze was difficult for firefighters to control, and it totally destroyed at least 20-25 homes and displaced at least 130 people. The small town is home to about 1,000 people. Damage assessments were still underway as of Tuesday, making it likely that the number of structures damaged or destroyed would increase.

8) Heavy rainfall that dumped three inches or more of rain across southeastern Massachusetts on Sunday resulted in flash flooding, especially in Norwood. Floodwaters inundated Norwood Hospital, prompting the evacuation of patients, including those in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), to other facilities. The floodwaters reached at least four to eight feet high, flooding the basement of the hospital. The water also caused a wall to collapse, damaging the hospital kitchen and other areas.


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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