AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Wildfires Erupt in Colorado and Wyoming

Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 13, 2018: The newly erupted Buffalo Mountain wildfire in Colorado spread rapidly forcing evacuations in nearby subdivisions, the standoff with police in Orlando ended after four children and the gunmen are found dead, a wildfire that erupted in Wyoming on Sunday has now consumed more than 5,200 acres and forced evacuations, experts issue a warning about the vulnerability of commercial airliners to hackers, the eruptions continue at Kilauea as workers speed efforts to erect shelters ahead of hurricane season, a United Airlines flight was diverted to Ireland amid a security concern after a threatening note was found onboard, PG&E faces nearly 100 lawsuits after the deadly 2017 wildfires in Northern California, and Hurricane Bud is forecast to weaken before it makes landfall on the Baja California Peninsula sometime Thursday.

    1. The Buffalo Mountain fire in Colorado, which began on Tuesday, came dangerously close to a residential subdivision, [link url=”” title=”forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,400 homes near Silverthorne”], its rapid spread shocking residents as they scrambled to flee. Additional residents were put on notice with pre-evacuation orders should the fire shift and threaten homes below 20 Grand Road, but firefighters reported that no structures have been lost. Fire officials credit [link url=”” title=”recently completed fire breaks cut in over the last several years”] as being responsible for preventing the wildfire from spreading into area subdivisions.

    1. The standoff in Orlando, Florida with a gunman who held four children hostage [link url=”” title=”ended late Monday in the death of all four children”] and the man who held them hostage. The man, identified as Gary Wayne Lindsey, Jr., 35, was found in a closet–dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound–when police breached the apartment around 9:00 p.m. The suspect also fired at police officers who originally responded to the home, [link url=”” title=”striking and critically wounding one officer, Kevin Valencia”], before the suspect barricaded himself in the apartment for the nearly 24-hour stand-off.

    1. A wildfire burning in [link url=”” title=”southeastern Wyoming near the Colorado border”] that was reported Sunday afternoon quickly spread, forcing hundreds to evacuate. Hot, dry, and windy weather fueled the fire, which grew to more than 2,300 acres by Monday afternoon and had at least 70 firefighters initially battling the blaze. A Type II Team will take over command of the rapidly spreading Badger Creek Fire on Wednesday, which by [link url=”” title=”Tuesday night had consumed more than 5,200 acres”] in the Medicine Bow National Forest.

    1. [link url=”” title=”A sobering warning comes from cybersecurity experts”] at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory–working for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)–regarding the ability of hackers to access commercial airlines–it is only a matter of time. The warning follows their testing of a Boeing 757 aircraft where they gained access through the plane’s radio frequency communications in just two days. The testing was done in an effort to develop mitigation efforts [link url=”” title=”to prevent the future hacking of commercial aircraft”] and DHS has scheduled additional tests to help increase protection from future cyberattacks.

    1. Two new steam explosions at Kilauea’s summit on Monday [link url=”″ title=”triggered a magnitude 5.4 earthquake”] and produced minor ash fall in surrounding areas. Another minor explosion on [link url=”″ title=”Tuesday shot ash high into the atmosphere”], while vigorous lava flows from Fissure 8 continue to shoot lava at least 160 feet into the air before it rapidly flows into the ocean. Scientists are unsure when the eruptions will stop, and [link url=”″ title=”work has begun on temporary shelters to house evacuees ahead of the approaching hurricane season”].

    1. [link url=”” title=”A security concern onboard a United Airlines flight”] traveling from Rome to Chicago on Monday caused the plane to divert to Shannon, Ireland. Reports indicate that a threatening message was found on the Boeing 767-300 aircraft carrying 207 passengers and 11 crew members, causing it to land in Ireland, [link url=”” title=”where the plane and all the passengers were being searched”]. In a Tweet by United Airlines, they noted that Flight 971 had been canceled in Shannon, Ireland and passengers were being rebooked on other flights, [link url=”” title=”but United Airlines reportedly declined to comment on the flight diversion”].

    1. [link url=”” title=”PG&E of California faces more than 100 lawsuits”] after fire officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) blamed the company for at least 12 of the nearly 170 wildfires that raged in Northern California last fall. State officials indicated that the fires were allegedly caused by electric and power distribution lines, conductors, and power pole failures, although the company blamed years of drought and high temperatures as the cause of exacerbated area wildfires. CalFire findings on eight of the 12 fires were also turned over to local prosecutors due to [link url=”” title=”evidence of potential safety violations by the company”].

    1. Weather forecasters expect [link url=”” title=”Hurricane Bud to continue to decrease in strength prior to landfall”] as the now Category 3 storm heads for Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. Weather experts note that the decrease in strength will come as the storm encounters colder waters on its northwest trek to the resort laden Cabo San Lucas. Landfall is expected to occur sometime late Thursday as a tropical storm, but [link url=”″ title=”earlier impacts along Mexico’s coastline and the Baja Peninsula”] are likely to include heavy rainfall of anywhere from 3 to 4 inches, rip currents, and dangerous surf with heavy swells.

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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