Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 21, 2020: Mandatory evacuations were ordered for residents near the Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado; Tropical Storm Beta is slowly crawling toward the Texas Central Gulf Coast; a firefighter who went missing Thursday while fighting the El Dorado Fire in California was found deceased Friday; a portion of Highway 38 is currently closed due to a debris slide caused by the El Dorado Fire; a new online training course is available for incident commanders (ICs) involved in a line-of-duty death (LODD); DHS highlights best practices for combating false information during disasters; a partnership has formed to offer increased cybersecurity to SLTTs at no charge; and the NTSB is investigating four small plane crashes that killed ten people over the weekend.

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1) Mandatory evacuations were ordered Sunday evening for residents living near the Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado. Residents living in Red Feather and Crystal Lakes were told not to gather belongings or try to protect homes or businesses which would delay leaving, as the threat to life was imminent. According to fire officials, fire growth had slowed, and the fire was 15% contained by Sunday, when gusty winds from the southwest caused increased fire activity along the northwest perimeter.

2) Tropical Storm Beta is slowing crawling its way toward the Texas Central Gulf Coast, with a projected landfall Monday evening somewhere near Houston. The National Hurricane Center noted that Beta is struggling amid dry and stable air that has now been pulled into the storm, and winds have decreased to a maximum of 50 mph. Due to weak steering currents, the storm is expected to stall and make a turn to the north-northeast sometime Tuesday or Wednesday, likely making this a long duration rainfall event that leads to storm surge, flash flooding, and floods.

3) In California, the firefighter who went missing Thursday while fighting the El Dorado Fire was found deceased on Friday. An investigation into what caused the firefighter’s death is underway, although the name of the deceased individual has not been released. The fire has consumed more than 22,500 acres, and mandatory evacuation orders are still in place.

4) The El Dorado Fire growth has moderated; however, critically dry fuels remain and are receptive to spot fires, while hot rolling material along the Highway 38 corridor puts containment lines at risk. The fire also caused a debris slide across Highway 38 Sunday night, which has closed the highway between mile marker 16 and 17. According to fire officials, CalTrans will begin working to remove the debris on Monday.

5) The loss of a firefighter in a line-of-duty death (LODD) can create a series of impacts for Incident Commanders (ICs), including emotional, legal, personal, political, relational and social. A short, new online training course has been developed for ICs by the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation (NFFF) to educate ICs in preparing for the unique challenges that arise following a LODD. ICs are also encouraged to engage in the IC to IC Network — support for ICs who have experienced a LODD.

6) False and inaccurate information often plagues the internet regarding a disaster, and a white paper available from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can help agencies directly address these issues. The paper highlights the four main reasons for misinformation, which include incorrect, insufficient or outdated information, along with opportunistic disinformation. The DHS white paper offers an in-depth look at causes and best practices to counter false information, rumors, or misinformation.

7) State, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments remain key targets for cybercriminals as they are often required to manage large, complex networks with multiple third-party software application systems. SLTTs often have to work with reduced cybersecurity budgets while struggling with a shortage of cybersecurity and networking professionals to fill open positions. A partnership has formed to offer Malicious Domain Blocking and Reporting (MDBR) at no cost to SLTT governments who are members of MS-and EI-ISACs (Multi-State and Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Centers).

8) The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating four small plane crashes that occurred over the weekend and killed a total of 10 people. Two of the crashes involved Piper aircraft, one of which was a PA-46 that crashed in Texas. The other was a PA-32 that crashed in Indiana, and only one person out of eight survived the two crashes. The other two crashes under investigation by the NTSB include one that occurred in Ottawa County, Michigan, which killed two people, and a helicopter crash in Illinois that killed one.


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