AMU Emergency Management Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: PSPS Watch Issued for Portions of California

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 25, 2020: CalFire states that full containment of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire has been reached; high levels of NDMA prompt the recall of another diabetic drug; the Cameron Peak Fire continues to creep toward Red Feather Lake, threatening thousands of homes and structures; insurance adjusters are allegedly failing to inspect insulation in homes following the August 10 derecho that affected the Midwest; PG&E has issued a PSPS watch for portions of California for Saturday and Sunday; pet food sold at stores nationwide, including PetSmart and online retailer Chewy, has been recalled due to potential salmonella contamination; a heat wave is set to impact parts of the West Coast this weekend as air quality levels deteriorate; and President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Florida in the wake of Hurricane Sally.

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1) CalFire said the CZU Lightning Complex Fire reached 100% containment as of Tuesday evening, but almost 1,000 people remain evacuated. The large wildfire, burning in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties since August 16, was among the top 10 most destructive wildfires in California history. It has destroyed 1,100 structures, 925 of which were single-family homes, and scorched 86,509 acres. Although the fire is contained, CalFire has urged caution, as the wildfire is still burning and threatening over 3,800 structures.

2) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced another voluntary recall of a diabetic medication due to high levels of a carcinogen in the medicine. A single lot of Riomet ER (Metformin Hydrochloride), produced by Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries, Inc., was recalled due to higher than permitted daily intake levels of NDMA — N-Nitrosodimethylamine — a probable human carcinogen. Recalls of the diabetic medication began in May, and this makes the ninth brand of Metformin medication that has been recalled due to unsafe levels of NDMA.

3) Firefighters are working around the clock to build containment lines around the Cameron Peak Fire burning in Colorado before westerly winds increase on Friday. Warm temperatures with low humidity will also elevate the risk of increased fire activity, and the high winds could also ground air support. The fire, which has already burned nearly 104,800 acres, is still creeping dangerously close to Red Feather Lake, about three miles away. Thousands of homes and structures remain threatened.

4) The August 10 derecho that swept through the Midwest brought heavy rains and had peak winds of 130 mph, which caused widespread damage. One company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is cautioning homeowners to check the insulation in their home, as many insurance adjusters are allegedly neglecting to inspect insulation when they conduct home inspections. According to the company, the insulation acts as a sponge, collecting water that has come into the home and leading to water damage, mold, and mildew.

5) Pacific Gas & Electric has announced that it may need to cut power in Northern California amid a heat wave that is to sweep the region this coming weekend. Currently, there is a PSPS Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) watch in effect for portions of Northern California for Saturday and Sunday. A large swath of California, including Sacramento, is also under a fire weather watch. Fire officials urge caution as conditions will be highly favorable for fires to spark and swiftly spread.

6) A voluntary recall of dog food has been issued by the Real Pet Food Company due to potential salmonella contamination. Four-pound bags of Bill+Margot Wild Kangaroo and Superfoods Recipe have been recalled, because they could affect pets or the humans handling the product. The products were sold by PetSmart, Chewy and other national retailers across the United States. Production of the product has ceased while the FDA and the company investigate the issue.

7) A heat wave moving over portions of the West Coast this weekend is set to bring temperatures in the 90s, with some locations possibly hitting triple digits. Air quality is expected to deteriorate somewhat in the Bay Area, reaching moderate levels. However, an Air Quality Alert has been issued for portions of Central California until Monday at 5:00 p.m. The poor air quality in the Central Valley area continues to be the result of wildfire smoke from the multiple, large wildfires burning throughout the region.

8) President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Florida in the wake of Hurricane Sally, allowing for federal aid to assist residents and local governments during the recovery process. Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama, and impacts from the Category 2 hurricane were felt across the Florida Panhandle. Both Hurricane Sally and Hurricane Ivan made landfall on the same date and in the same place, 16 years apart.  Both storms led to widespread damage from heavy rainfall, high winds and storm surge.


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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