Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 11, 2020: A dead body found in the Almeda Fire prompts a criminal investigation by police; a massive hunt has been launched for a tiger spotted in Knox County, Tennessee; the NHC is monitoring six systems in the Atlantic Ocean, including two tropical storms; Tropical Storm Paulette is forecast to become a hurricane this weekend and could strike Bermuda; Portland has declared an emergency due to a local shortage of firefighters; semi-trucks were toppled and thousands remain without power in Utah following hurricane-force winds that swept through the state on Tuesday; Air Quality Alerts have been extended through Monday for much of Oregon and Southwest Washington; and a La Niña Advisory was issued by NOAA on Thursday for its impact on winter weather conditions.

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1) Police have begun a criminal investigation into the Almeda Fire that began near Ashland, Oregon, after the remains of a body were found in that area. The blaze has burned 600 homes and at least 3,000 acres; it has also threatened homes and communities in and around Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, and Medford. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized funding to help fight the fire, which has also threatened small businesses, Interstate-5, schools, a fire station, and transmission and communication lines.

2) A massive hunt is underway for a tiger spotted near an industrial park in Knox County, Tennessee, near Knoxville. The large cat was first sighted by a sheriff’s deputy on Wednesday, wandering around the Forks of the River Industrial Park. A second sighting occurred just a few miles away on Thursday morning. The search for the wild animal is being led by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, with assistance from Tiger Haven, a sanctuary for big cats located in Kingston, Tennessee.

3) Tropical Storms Paulette and Rene continue to churn in the Atlantic Ocean, but the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is also busy watching four other disturbances. Two disturbances are just off the coast of Africa, including one that the NHC says is likely to become a tropical depression in the next few days. There are two other disturbances being carefully monitored. One is in the Gulf of Mexico, and the second is located over the Bahamas and forecast to strengthen once it moves over Florida and into the Gulf.

4) Tropical Storm Paulette is forecast to become a hurricane this weekend and will approach Bermuda sometime Sunday night. As of the 8 a.m. advisory, maximum winds were at 65 mph, with higher gusts, and gradual strengthening is expected to begin sometime Friday night. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) advised that as the storm strengthens, swells will increase across the southwestern Atlantic, increasing the chance for rip currents. Those with interests in Bermuda should continue to monitor the progress of this storm.

5) The City of Portland has declared an emergency after wildfires across Oregon have allegedly depleted local firefighting resources. Four people have died, and nearly 500,000 residents have fled from at least 35 wildfires that continue to burn amid high winds and dry conditions across the state. The blazes have scorched a total of over 900,000 acres and led to Air Quality Alerts throughout much of the state due to poor and sometimes hazardous air quality levels.

6) Nearly 66,000 people remained without power as of Thursday in Utah, after dangerously high winds whipped through the area on Tuesday. The hurricane-force winds killed one person, knocked down trees and power lines, and toppled about 45 semi-trucks and other high-profile vehicles on highways, including along Interstate 15. The high winds ushered in a temperature drop of about 40 degrees that also led to a snowstorm across the Rocky Mountains.

7) The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has extended an Air Quality Advisory for all regions of Oregon until at least Monday, due to increasing smoke from major wildfires burning across the state. The advisory also extends into Southwest Washington, and experts noted that air quality in Portland reached hazardous levels early Friday morning. Residents across the state are being urged to monitor air quality levels and avoid outdoor activities in locations where hazardous air quality levels exist.

8) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a La Niña advisory on Thursday, expecting the weather phenomenon to continue through the winter. NOAA indicated that La Niña conditions were present in August, with below average sea-surface temperatures extending across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. The biggest impacts from La Niña on the United States include the reduction of wind shear over the Atlantic, allowing much more favorable conditions for hurricane growth, increased rainfall in some locations, and drier and warmer air across the south-southwest.