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Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 15, 2021: An earthquake shook Hawaii’s Big Island on Thursday; CalFire reports that forward progress of the Erbes Fire has been stopped; semi-trucks toppled and power was interrupted as wind gusts top 100 mph in Wyoming and Colorado; a blizzard warning is in effect for Nebraska and Iowa until Friday evening; a third malware strain has been identified in the SolarWinds hack; a magnitude 3.8 earthquake rattled parts of Contra Costa County; first responder preparedness is key to identifying VBIED attacks and saving lives; and the FBI issued a public service announcement regarding swatting attacks linked to smart home device hacks.

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1) An earthquake shook Hawaii’s Big Island on Thursday evening at around 6:15 p.m. local time, and it was felt as far away as Oahu. The temblor, a magnitude 4.0,  was centered about five miles northeast of Pahala and occurred at a depth of about 21 miles, producing little to no damage. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), it was part of an ongoing seismic swarm that has been occurring under Pahala since August of 2019. 

2) The forward progress of the Erbes Fire, burning near Thousand Oaks, California, has been stopped. According to CalFire, the Red Flag Warning-sparked blaze began on Thursday and quickly consumed at least 250 acres. Firefighters, assisted by aerial teams, were able to quickly build containment lines and prevent the fire from spreading further. All evacuation orders for the area have been lifted; however, some road closures remain in place.

3) A ski resort closed, multiple semi-trucks toppled over, and power was interrupted for thousands in Wyoming and Colorado due to high winds on Thursday. Wind gusts of up to 99 mph — Category 1 hurricane speeds — whipped parts of Colorado, while wind gusts in excess of 100 mph were reported west of Cheyenne. The high wind warnings continue into Friday morning and afternoon for some parts of Wyoming and Colorado. Officials are urging high profile and lightweight vehicles to use caution if traveling in and through the area.

4) A blizzard warning is in effect until 6 p.m. on Friday for eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. Wind gusts of 40-60 mph are also expected throughout the same area during that time period, with the worst to occur mid-morning to early afternoon. According to weather reports, travel will become difficult to impossible amid the deteriorating conditions, which include total whiteout conditions. Officials are asking everyone in the area to avoid traveling if possible.

5) A third malware strain, and likely the first to be used, is reportedly involved in the SolarWinds hack. CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm, has identified a total of three strains, Sunburst, Teardrop, and the first one that was likely used, Sunspot. It is believed that Sunburst was able to enter the system after Sunspot was planted on the SolarWinds build server.

6) A magnitude 3.8 earthquake struck near Concord, California, in Contra Costa County, on Thursday. BART trains (Bay Area Regional Transit) were running at reduced speeds after the temblor, until track inspections were completed. Residual delays of 10-15 minutes were reported. Mild shaking was felt by many residents, but there were no reported injuries or damages.

7) First responder preparedness is critical when lives are at stake, such as during the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville. To better prepare first responders for Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) incidents, a training tool developed by the Joint CT Assessment Team (JCAT) is available. The tool helps increase awareness of VBIED through preparedness, recognition, and response, including pre-incident observable vehicle indicators and other behaviors associated with VBIED.

8) The FBI has issued a public service announcement to residents who own smart home devices with cameras and voice capabilities. In the wake of recent swatting attacks, the agency is urging anyone with these devices to use a complex, unique password, while also enabling two-factor authentication, in order to prevent swatting attacks — hoax calls to emergency services. The swatting attack calls to emergency services often involve an immediate threat-to-life situation in order to draw law enforcement and S.W.A.T. team responses to a specific location.