Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 17, 2020: CalFire wildfire training begins across the state for seasonal recruits; mandatory evacuations have been ordered for residents near the Bush Fire; emergency managers are asking residents in hurricane-prone areas to ensure seven days of emergency supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic; wildfires continue to burn in the Concho Valley in Texas; a new study suggests that an inexpensive steroid reduces the number of deaths of severely ill COVID-19 patients; Red Flag Warnings remain in place in the Northern California valley region through Thursday; CISA warns users of hurricane-related scams via fraudulent emails that target charitable donors and disaster victims in the aftermath of a hurricane; and Pasco County, Florida, is asking its residents to take a survey to help emergency managers adjust planning efforts to better meet the needs of residents during a hurricane amid COVID-19.

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1) As the wildfire season ramps up in California, 2,500 seasonal recruits are undergoing training with CalFire units across the state. The training allows the new recruits to practice skills such as fire line safety and hose lays, along with rescue and EMT skills that may be required in an emergency. Training lasts for about two weeks and is conducted during a prescribed, controlled burn site specifically designated for the training.

2) The Bush Fire, located northeast of Phoenix, Arizona, is currently the largest wildfire burning in the United States. According to statistics posted on Inciweb, the wildfire has scorched more than 70,600 acres, has zero containment and is still actively spreading. Communities in the area are under “Ready, Set, GO!” orders for evacuation readiness, with the following communities under GO! mandatory evacuation orders: Apache Lake, Sunflower, Punkin Center, and Tonto Basin. Jake’s Corner has been placed on SET mode.

3) Hurricane season is now underway, although there are currently no storms brewing in the tropics. This is the perfect time for families and other residents in hurricane-prone areas to get better prepared, especially since preparedness now includes considerations for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Emergency managers are now asking residents to ensure emergency preparation by having at least a seven-day supply of emergency supplies, instead of just three days. Those supplies should include food, water, medicines, basic first aid supplies, and COVID-19 protection supplies, such as masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.

4) Wildfires continue to burn in the Concho Valley in Texas, including the McDaniel Fire, which is now 75 percent contained. The blaze has already scorched 4,200 acres, and a total of at least seven volunteer fire departments responded to the blaze. The Arroyo Grande Fire burned an estimated 6,000 acres before firefighters were able to achieve containment. Dry conditions amid windy afternoons, with little rain forecast for the Valley, have greatly increased the fire risk. Fire officials are urging residents to be vigilant and to help prevent future fires.

5) A new study, which has yet to be peer reviewed, indicates that an inexpensive steroid, Dexamethasone, may help save the lives of COVID-19 patients. Typically, steroids decrease the body’s immune system, suppressing its ability to fight off other infections. However, during the test trial, Dexamethasone reduced the death rates by about one-third among the most severely ill COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital.

6) The Avila Fire near San Luis Obispo, California, is now 50 percent contained, and residents who had been evacuated were able to return home late Monday night. A new blaze, the Walker Fire, broke out on Tuesday in Calaveras County in Northern California. The fire spread rapidly and consumed more than 1,100 acres, with only about 10 percent containment. Fire officials urge caution, as a Red Flag Warning remains in place for valleys in the northern region of the state until at least 1:00 p.m. Thursday amid dry conditions and strong, gusty northerly winds.

7) With the 2020 hurricane season underway, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is cautioning online users about malicious cyber activity following a hurricane. According to CISA, hurricane-related scams via fraudulent emails target charitable donors and disaster victims in the aftermath of a hurricane, so anyone receiving these emails should be wary of clicking on attachments or hyperlinks. CISA also noted that users should remain vigilant regarding social media plea posts, texts, and door-to-door solicitors in the aftermath of a hurricane or other natural disaster.

8) Pasco County, Florida, is asking its residents to participate in a survey regarding hurricane preparedness during a pandemic. Residents are being asked to go to the Pasco County homepage at to take the survey, which will help emergency managers adjust planning efforts to better meet the needs of residents during a hurricane. The survey will assess the overall preparedness of residents, including their emergency supplies and evacuation plans, such as if they will stay or leave and if they are going to use a public shelter or go somewhere else. The survey site closes on June 30.