Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Investigation continues into gas line explosion that critically injured three and severely burned the arms of a fourth person in Wagoner, OK

Investigation into gas line explosion that injured four continues

Posted: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 12:00 am

By JOSH ALLEN Staff Writer 

Wagoner Fire Chief Kelly Grooms said he still awaits the testimonies of witnesses that were on the scene of a gas line explosion that occurred west of Wagoner on 220 Road Thursday, Feb. 23.

The explosion critically injured three and severely burned the arms of a fourth person, according to Grooms.

“I plan to wrap up my investigation into the explosion by the first of next week,” Grooms told the American-Tribune on Monday. “I am still waiting on witness statements from three or four of the workers that were on scene at the time of the explosion. I plan to get all of those statements in this week.”

The exact cause of the explosion is unknown, but Grooms said it happened after a telephone crew damaged a six-inch gas line with a boring machine, causing it to leak, while putting in phone lines.

After the telephone workers realized the line was damaged, they called another crew to come out and repair the gas line. The explosion occurred during this repair process, according to Grooms.

Approximately nine Wagoner firemen responded to the scene after receiving the call just after 7 p.m. last Thursday. Grooms said they were on the scene until after 11 p.m.

The four construction workers closest to the explosion were injured and transported to Wagoner Community Hospital by private vehicle. Three of the injured, however, had to be flown by helicopter to a Tulsa-area hospital to treat what officials said were severe injuries.

The names of those injured are not being released at this time, according to Grooms, nor did he know the status of the injured at press time.

No structures were damaged by the fire, but the telephone companies boring machine, which was about 75 feet north of the explosion, was completely destroyed, along with a tractor owned by the contractors working.

“The contractors were able to move a second tractor out of the way when the explosion occurred, which likely saved it,” Grooms said. “The other tractor was completely destroyed.”

Due to the cause of the fire being a gas line, Grooms said they did not extinguish the flames right away for safety reasons.

“We first made sure everyone was safe and out of the way and then set up a perimeter around the fire to wait on the gas to be cut off to stop the leak,” Grooms said. “There was gas shooting out of the line about 12 feet in the air. If we had put it out without stopping the leak, gas would have kept escaping out of the line and building up, creating gas pockets. That could have caused another explosion.”

“When the gas isn’t burning, it can’t be seen, so we waited on a construction crew to come out and dig around the line so they could snip the line and cut the leak off,” he continued. “There were a couple of valves that the workers tried to shut off before the explosion, but it obviously didn’t shut the flow of the gas off all the way.”

Grooms said people should always pay attention to gas line warning signs before starting to dig and keep safety precautions in mind.

“It’s hard to say right now what caused this, but people should always pay attention to gas line warning signs before starting to dig,” Grooms said. “Without knowing exactly what caused the explosion, it’s hard to say how to be preventative in the future.” 


3 people critically injured in Oklahoma gas well explosion

Published February 24, 2017
Associated Press

WAGONER, Okla. – Authorities say four people were injured when a private natural gas well exploded in eastern Oklahoma.

Wagoner County Emergency Manager Heath Underwood says the explosion happened Thursday night as contract workers were repairing a gas line near Wagoner, about 125 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.

Underwood says three workers were critically injured and two of them were flown from the scene by air ambulance.

The Tulsa World reports that the gas line had been damaged by a truck earlier in the day.

Underwood says emergency responders cut off the gas line to the well and allowed the fire to burn out. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze despite high-risk wildfire conditions that sparked a grassfire in nearby Coweta.

An explosion and fire at an apartment in Medina, oHIO that killed a mother and her son earlier this month was caused by a natural gas leak

MEDINA, Ohio - An explosion and fire at an apartment in Medina that killed a mother and her son earlier this month was caused by a natural gas leak within the building, according to a preliminary ruling from the State Fire Marshal.

While an official ruling on the final cause could still be days or weeks away, Dan Gladish, the chief building official for Medina said a 1/2 inch gas valve was open and it wasn't capped.

Gladish said the valve was not in use, and at one time, was connected to a gas dryer.

The building official believes natural gas poured into an apartment for at least two hours before the explosion.

"A 50 cent cap or a 50 cent plug could have most likely prevented this from happening," Gladish said.

The explosion happened at the Medina Village Apartments on Springbrook Drive on Feb. 9.

Jacob Harley Drake, 18, died as a result of the fire. Authorities said he had special needs and was confined to a wheelchair.

His mother, Sheila Drake, was pronounced dead on Feb. 20. As of Tuesday morning, her husband, Robert Drake, was in fair condition at MetroHealth Medical Center.

The blast also left numerous families homeless.

Several days after the explosion, gas company inspectors found more than 80 gas leaks throughout the complex, including 10 that were similar to the interior leak where the explosion happened, Gladish told News 5.

"There were 10 uncapped valves, so if we find that an uncapped valve and wide open valve led to this disaster, it could have happened 10 more times."

Management at the apartment complex referred questions to an attorney, Thomas Cabral.

Cabral said an investigation is on-going and that he would comment "down the road."


MEDINA, Ohio - An 18-year-old man was killed in an early morning apartment fire in Medina.

Emergency crews were called to the Medina Village Apartments at Springbrook Drive around 3:15 a.m. Thursday for a report of an explosion.

An 18-year-old, who had special needs and was confined to a wheelchair, was pronounced dead at the scene.

His parents were badly burned. They were taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in critical condition.

The Medina fire chief originally told News 5 the mother had died at the hospital. However, at 11:30 a.m. a MetroHealth Medical Center spokesperson said the woman was still listed in critical condition.

The apartment building was destroyed. About 20 residents are now displaced.

The Ohio State Fire Marshal responded to the scene to investigate.

Gas crews are trying to figure out what could have caused the fire. The Medina Fire Departments said it hasn't responded to any gas leaks or calls at this complex in at least a year. A few weeks ago, crews performed some work on water lines and the city said the building inspection showed no further problems.

According to the American Red Cross, eight families were displaced by the fire, affecting 18 people. They're providing food, clothing, shelter and financial assistance.

Residents Hannah Morabito,17, and her mother Lori Morabito,53, are among the residents affected by the fire.The mother was trapped under a wall and cinder blocks that collapsed. Hannah had to pull her mother out of the rubble.

Crews now working to recover body of 18-year-old. Chief says parents tried to save him, but were unable. @wews— Sarah Phinney (@sarahphinneytv) February 9, 2017

Columbia Gas issued a statement Thursday afternoon:

Our crews conducted a thorough investigation of our natural gas main and service lines that serve the area and confirmed that they are safe. While the cause of the incident is not known at this time, based on our investigation, our natural gas main lines and service lines were not the source of this incident.

Read the full statement below.

Columbia Gas Statement on Medina

The Medina United Church of Christ is taking donations from February 10 through February 24 for victims of the fire and the Red Cross is assisting 18 people from 8 families.

EDUCATING GRANDPA: older adults, ages 65 and higher, are more likely to die in home fires than the rest of the population

“Educating the elderly about fire safety is paramount to their survival. It’s a fact that older adults, ages 65 and higher, are more likely to die in home fires than the rest of the population. People can save their lives, and the lives of others, by staying informed and taking steps to prevent fires from starting,” says FDNY Lieutenant Anthony Mancuso, Executive Director of Fire Safety Education.

In 2016, FDNY recorded the lowest number of fire deaths in New York City history. Of those 48 deaths, 21 were New Yorkers age 65 or older.

“A working smoke/CO detector is extremely important for early detection of a fire. An early warning will give more time to escape safely,” says Lt. Mancuso. “We know that a working smoke alarm can cut your risk of dying in a fire in half. We want to remind all New Yorkers, especially seniors, that this simple step can save your life. 

The FDNY encourages seniors to have a plan in mind in the event of a fire, including an escape route with at least two exits per room. It is important to practice these escape routes. This includes practicing unlocking and opening windows, security gates and doors as well as making sure stairways and exit are clear of clutter and storage.”

More than 160 firefighters battled a four-alarm fire that broke out in row houses in the Bronx; 6 injured, 7 row homes destroyed


Eyewitness News
Wednesday, March 01, 2017 05:33PM
CLAREMONT VILLAGE, Bronx (WABC) -- More than 160 firefighters battled a four-alarm fire that broke out in row houses in the Bronx Wednesday afternoon, injuring six people.

The fire started on the top floor of a two-story home on College Avenue in the Claremont Village section at about 1:30 p.m. It then spread to five other homes.

The FDNY said the fire response quickly grew, going from a two-alarm fire to four alarms in about 20 minutes.

Everyone was able to get out safely. Though, one civilian and five firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

Fire officials said it appeared the fire had been burning for quite a while before the FDNY was called to the scene.

FDNY spokesman Jim Long said the four units in the middle unit have extensive damage, and three of them are likely beyond repair.

Twenty families are displaces as a result of the fire, and the Red Cross is assisting.

The 2016 Annual Report of the Office of Flood Insurance Advocate highlights six areas of customer frustration related to the NFIP, specifically in relation to flood insurance, flood hazard mapping, Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grants, and floodplain management.

The 2016 Annual Report of the Office of Flood Insurance Advocate

Executive Summary

The Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate (OFIA) advocates for the fair treatment of policyholders and property owners, or customers, by providing education and guidance on all aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), identifying trends affecting the public, and making recommendations for program improvements to Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) leadership. This report highlights six areas of customer frustration related to the NFIP, specifically in relation to flood insurance, flood hazard mapping, Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grants, and floodplain management.

The issues emerged to the OFIA while assisting customers with their questions and concerns, a primary activity for the OFIA stemming from its mandate outlined in Section 24 of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA). In this report the OFIA aims to advocate to the FIMA program offices with recommendations to address these issues that
will have the greatest positive impact for a larger population of NFIP customers.

The six issues presented in this report are as follows:

• Erroneous Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL) Properties Designation: A subset of policyholders have buildings that are incorrectly identified as being an SRL property, even after the property has been mitigated. The complicated appeal process makes it challenging for policyholders to correct the designation, resulting in some property owners facing a 25% increase to their annual premiums.

• Gaps in Flood Insurance Agent Education: Flood insurance education for insurance agents who sell and service NFIP flood insurance needs to be more robust. In addition to the twice yearly standard program changes, the NFIP is undergoing significant change due to legislative reform. The one-time, three-hour flood insurance training requirement is not sufficient to ensure customers are being sold an accurately rated flood insurance policies
and agents are communicating correct information about the NFIP.

• The Need for Consistency Across Regions in Public Mapping Outreach:
Policyholders and property owners continue to face significant challenges in obtaining consistent and understandable mapping information and outreach-related information across FEMA’s 10 Regions. Policyholders and property owners need answers to their questions regarding the effects map revisions have on flood insurance, such as how they will impact premiums, the requirement to purchase a policy, and associated refund procedures.

• Difficulties Accessing Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) Coverage:
Customers continue to be frustrated with several issues related to the ICC portion of the claim process. One issue is that insurers do not advance ICC payments to policyholders in order to pay contractors to begin mitigation projects. Policyholders are also confused when they are denied ICC, because they have received the maximum amount of building coverage available under the NFIP, but have been paying premium for ICC coverage. It also appears there is not enough readily accessible ICC guidance to assist policyholders with successfully navigating the ICC claim process. Finally, there continues to be a concern that the maximum amount of ICC coverage available ($30,000) under the NFIP is insufficient to complete most mitigation projects.

• Difficulties with Multiple and Conflicting Flood Zone Determinations: Flood zone determinations by multiple entities are a major issue affecting policyholders and property owners.  Confusion occurs when property owners are told by their lender they must pur- chase flood insurance because their building is located within a high risk flood area.

However, their insurance agent determines their building is located in a moderate-to-low risk flood area and the requirement to purchase flood insurance does not apply. This is confusing when both sources use the same flood map to make the flood zone determi- nation, leaving the property owner
frustrated. Flood zone discrepancies can also cause premium rating disputes that may require policyholders to pay more for flood insurance. There is no clear path for these different sources to work together to solve the discrepancy.

• Inability to Obtain a Refund of the HFIAA Surcharge When Canceling an NFIP Policy: Policyholders are voicing concerns about the inability to obtain a refund of the surcharge from the NFIP when policies are canceled and a full or pro rata portion of the premium is returned.

The OFIA will continue to work on the NFIP issues and OFIA recommendations by engaging with the FIMA program offices to discuss, understand, and identify opportunities that exist  to address these issues for policyholders and property owners. The issues in this report arepresented in three parts: the key issue affecting customers, the background of the issue, and the OFIA’s recommendations for program’s consideration. FIMA program office’s responses
are included as received.

Michigan OSHA issued citations to Dunn Paper Inc., in Port Huron because it failed to adequately protect workers from amputation hazards posed by cooling fan blades, spinning flywheels and belts and pulleys.

Michigan cites paper company for machine guarding and other violations

Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations to Dunn Paper Inc., in Port Huron for safety and health violations. MIOSHA inspectors determined that the company failed to adequately protect workers from amputation hazards posed by cooling fan blades, spinning flywheels and belts and pulleys. The company was also cited for failing to provide fall prevention barriers around an open-sided elevated platform and open holes, and for not properly training workers on the safe use of rented aerial work platforms.

Nevada cites roofing company for exposing workers to fall hazards

Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations to East Fork Roofing LLC in Carson City for safety violations. Nevada OSHA inspectors concluded that the company failed to protect workers engaged in roofing activities from fall hazards. Workers on a low slope roof, 10 feet above ground level, were not provided with guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, a warning line system or safety monitoring system.

The NIOSH Sound Level Meter (NIOSH SLM) app for iOS devices is now available on iTunes freely to the occupational safety and health community as well as the general public.

New NIOSH Sound Level Meter App

Posted on January 17, 2017 by CAPT Chucri (Chuck) A. Kardous, MS, PE, and Metod Celestina, B.Sc. EE

Image of the main screen of the NIOSH SLM app (shown with a MicW i436 external microphone)

Imagine if workers around the world could collect and share workplace (or task-based) noise exposure data using their smartphones. Scientists and occupational safety and health professionals could rely on such shared data to build job exposure databases and promote better hearing health and prevention efforts. In addition, the ability to acquire and display real-time noise exposure data could raises workers’ awareness about their work environment and help them make informed decisions about potential hazards to their hearing.

The idea was so intriguing that in 2014, the NIOSH hearing loss team evaluated 192 sound measurement applications (apps) for the iOS and Android platforms to examine their suitability and accuracy in relation to professional sound measurement instruments (Kardous and Shaw, 2014). Of the 192 apps the team examined, 10 iOS apps met the outlined criteria for functionality, features, and calibration capability, and of those, 4 iOS apps met our testing criteria. Read more about that study in the blog So How Accurate Are These Smartphone Sound Measurement Apps?

Realizing that most of the apps on the market are oriented at the casual user and lack the accuracy and functionality necessary to conduct occupational noise measurements, NIOSH hearing loss researchers collaborated with an app developer, EA LAB, to create an iOS based sound level meter app that measures and characterizes occupational noise exposure similar to professional instruments.

The NIOSH Sound Level Meter (NIOSH SLM) app for iOS devices is now available on iTunes freely to the occupational safety and health community as well as the general public.

The app was subjected to the same testing requirements that were established in the NIOSH laboratory study.[1] It met the testing criteria (± 2 dB mean difference from the reference type 1 sound level meter). In our most recent study on the accuracy of apps when used with external calibrated microphones, the 4 apps from our original study achieved closer agreement (within ± 1 dB) of the reference type 1 sound level meter (Kardous and Shaw 2016). The NIOSH SLM app, when used with an external calibrated microphone, measured sound levels within ± 1 dB of the reference SLM over the testing range of 65 -95 dB SPL in our laboratory. While the app is not meant to replace a professional sound level meter or a noise dosimeter or be used for compliance purposes, we recommend that those interested in making proper noise measurements use an external microphone that can be calibrated with an acoustical calibrator for improved accuracy (Roberts et al. 2016).

The NIOSH SLM app has many important features, it provides a readout of the sound level using the built-in microphone (or external microphone if used) and reports the instantaneous sound level in A, C, or Z-weighted decibels. View the video for a demonstration of the app’s features. The weighting is user-selectable and can be accessed in the “Settings” screen. The app also reports the main metrics that are of importance for proper occupational noise measurements – mainly the run time (total time), the A-weighted Equivalent Sound Level (LAeq), the Maximum Level measured during the current run time, the C-weighted Peak Sound Pressure Level (LCpeak), the Time-Weighted Average (TWA) and Dose. The app also contains some basic information on noise and hearing loss prevention. In addition, the app allows the user to save and share measurement data using the smartphone other communication and media features. If location services are enabled, the app can utilize the GPS feature to provide an exact geospatial location of the location of the noise measurement.

A full list of the features and functionality can be accessed on the NIOSH SLM app page.

Your input on the new app is appreciated as we try to improve it and make it widely accessible. Help us spread the word about this new tool for protecting workers’ hearing.

CAPT Chucri (Chuck) A. Kardous, MS, PE, is a senior research engineer in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.

Metod Celestina, B.Sc. EE, CEO at EA LAB


Kardous, C. A., & Shaw, P. B. (2014). Evaluation of smartphone sound measurement applications. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 135, EL186 (2014)

Roberts, B., Kardous, C., & Neitzel, R. (2016). Improving the Accuracy of Smart Devices to Measure Noise Exposure. Journal of occupational and environmental hygiene. DOI 10.1080/15459624.2016.1183014

Kardous, C. A., & Shaw, P. B. (2016). Evaluation of smartphone sound measurement applications (apps) using external microphones – A follow-up study. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 140 (4), EL327 (2016)

[1] Please note that professional sound level meters must comply with a host of acoustical and electrical tests to meet national and international standards. As of today, no smartphone or smartphone-based app has met the requirement of such standards. Although we tested and verified the accuracy and functionality of this app at the NIOSH Acoustics Laboratory (over a specific testing range), this app does not comply with any national standard. We are currently conducting a study to evaluate the app’s performance in various workplace settings. In addition, the app was not designed to calculate noise exposure metrics based on environmental or non-occupational noise limits.

An Alcoa employee was burned by an electrical arc, which caused a power outage in parts of the Massena, NY plant.

Alcoa Employee Injured In Accident That Sparked Fire Posted: Feb 28, 2017 11:54 AM EST Updated Feb 28, 2017 11:54 AM EST

An Alcoa employee was taken to the hospital following a fire Monday night at the company's Massena plant.

A statement from the company says the unidentified employee was burned by an electrical arc, which caused a power outage in parts of the plant.

Company officials say the outage "contributed to a fire in the facility’s bake furnace" and the Massena Fire Department put the fire out around 9 p.m.

There were no other injuries, officials say, and the plant’s molten metal production was unaffected.

Officials say they are investigating.


MASSENA, NY — Alcoa officials say their investigation into a Monday evening fire at the Massena West plant is ongoing, but there were no injuries resulting from the fire other than the burned worker.

“An employee at Massena Operations was transported to a local hospital on Monday evening after an electrical arc resulted in burns. An ensuing power outage in some areas of the plant contributed to a fire in the facility’s bake furnace and the local fire department extinguished the fire around 9 p.m. While the investigation is ongoing, we can confirm that no one was injured from the fire, and the plant’s molten metal production is unaffected,” officials said in emailed statement.

The Massena, Louisville, Helena and Hogansburg Akwesasne fire departments, along with the Massena Rescue Squad, were dispatched to the fire around 9 p.m. and could be seen leaving the plant around 10:15 p.m.

Massena Fire Chief Bill Kearns said the plant’s emergency response teams were already on the scene.

“We were called in as mutual aid to their fire brigade. They had it pretty much handled. They called us in for backup and precautionary measures. We pretty much just set up precautionary things,” he said.

The other departments were called in “just in case we needed them,” Mr. Kearns said.

California faces an estimated $50 billion price tag for roads, dams and other infrastructure threatened by floods such as the one that severely damaged Oroville Dam last month

WASHINGTON, DC (AP) – California faces an estimated $50 billion price tag for roads, dams and other infrastructure threatened by floods such as the one that severely damaged Oroville Dam last month, the state’s natural resources secretary said Wednesday.

Nearly 200,000 people living near the country’s tallest dam were evacuated three weeks ago amid fears of a catastrophic flood after a chunk of concrete tore out the main spillway following heavy rains.

Swollen rivers, troubled levees and crumbling roads are causing havoc statewide as California copes with is likely its wettest year ever, California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird said. Severe winter storms have brought torrential rain and significant snow after five years of drought.

Damage to California’s highways is estimated at nearly $600 million. More than 14,000 people in San Jose were forced to evacuate last month and floods shut down a portion of a major freeway.

In the Yosemite Valley, only one of three main routes into the national park’s major attraction is open because of damage or fear the roads could give out from cracks and seeping water, rangers said. On central California’s rain-soaked coast, a bridge in Big Sur has crumbled beyond repair, blocking passage on the north-south Highway 1 through the tourist destination for up to a year.

Proposals by Gov. Jerry Brown for $387 million for flood control and emergency response were “an important start,” Laird said at a Senate hearing Wednesday, but the requests fall far short of the amount needed to address flood projects statewide.

Laird told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that he has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies to expand inspection and review of all federally-owned dams in California, with particular attention paid to secondary structures such as spillways.

He also has asked the Corps to update federal operating manuals for key California reservoirs and is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars authorized under a new water-projects law for rehabilitation of “high hazard dams” in the state.

Dam improvements are part of a $10 billion law approved by Congress late last year to authorize water projects across the country, including more than two dozen projects in California.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said nearly half of California’s 1,400 dams are designated as “high hazard potential” by state officials.

The state has invested about $11 billion in flood control management over the past decade, Harris said, yet more action is needed to protect nearly 7 million people and $580 billion worth of assets – buildings, farmland, and crops – that are at risk. The committee also heard from officials in Wyoming and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where recent floods caused millions of dollars in damage



Jerry Brown wants to spend nearly $450 million on flood control following dam emergency

Our beloved Donald Trump has promised
exempt water infrastructure and other important projects from any National Environmental Policy Act review.  Enough with the stupid bug&bunny studies.

Jerry Brown says the state needs to spend some money to maintain its dams, roads and other public works during a Feb. 24, 2017 press conference at the Capitol. Video courtesy of the California Channel. Jim Miller

By Christopher Cadelago and Jim Miller

After successfully appealing to the Trump administration for help with the Oroville Dam emergency, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday that he wants to accelerate state spending to reduce flood risks as he asked Washington to expedite federal environmental reviews on several projects, including repairs to the dam’s spillway.

The Democratic governor’s flood protection plan combines $50 million in existing general fund money with $387 million from the $7.5 billion water bond approved by voters in 2014.

Brown, who made a surprise visit to the dam’s incident command post Wednesday, said the state faces tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure needs.

“There is real work to be done,” Brown told reporters at the Capitol, calling the proposed allotments “basic government needs.”

“We got to belly up to the bar and start spending money,” he added.

Friday’s funding package does not include any money to repair the Oroville Dam’s main spillway or its emergency spillway, where erosion prompted the evacuation of 188,000 people below the dam Feb. 12.

That expense is the responsibility of the more than 20 water districts and other water contractors that get water from the reservoir, the Department of Finance said Friday.

The Department of Water Resources does not yet have a cost estimate for the spillway repairs, a spokesman said Friday. The association representing state water contractors could not be reached for comment.

The $387 million in accelerated Proposition 1 spending would pay for high-priority flood prevention projects through June 2018. Those include reducing urban flood risks, particularly in the Sacramento and Stockton regions, maintaining levees, and building levee setbacks.

The $50 million in redirected general fund money will pay for more immediate needs, such as stockpiling sandbags and other flood-fighting equipment as well as better coordination between government agencies.

Also Friday, the administration announced that it will propose legislation requiring dams to have an emergency action plan that is updated every 10 years, as well as maps showing areas that would be flooded if there was a complete dam failure or other major problem.

Under the proposal, the state Department of Water Resources could impose fines and other measures for violators.

Federal emergency officials earlier this month approved Brown’s requests to pay for January storm damages and to support the unfolding response to the emergency at the distressed dam.

California legislators also have taken an interest. A bipartisan group has been taking aerial tours of the site amid preparations for next week’s oversight hearing to review what happened in Oroville, including issues with the emergency spillway that forced the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people along the Feather River Basin.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, has said he wants to provide $500 million in competitive grants to local and regional agencies for flood protection.

State water resources officials and the Butte County sheriff were feeling optimistic Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, as inflows into Lake Oroville were dropping. They said an emergency spillway on Oroville Dam was unlikely to be redeployed and an evacuation warni Peter Hecht The Sacramento Bee

On Friday, Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, said he was pleased with Brown’s proposed action to expedite repair of the spillways and increase flood control spending.

“It shows that we will do everything necessary to make the dam and communities below it safe. Providing the funding and environmental streamlining is essential to getting that job done now,” Gallagher said.

“We also need to have an immediate, robust and real discussion about ensuring investment in our water infrastructure,” he added.

Friday’s announcement by Brown came as he sent to a letter to President Donald Trump with a list of 10 “high-priority infrastructure projects” that need “expedited environmental review.” Some of the projects were included in an earlier list of California projects for a possible federal public works plan that Trump has promised. In the case of spillway repairs, Brown wrote, “We are asking the administration to exempt this project from any National Environmental Policy Act review.”

California had more than $11.8 billion in unsold natural resources bonds as of Dec. 31, including $7.4 billion from Proposition 1. Brown said the state also is spending $634 million from earlier borrowing measures on flood control over the next two years.

State Resources Secretary John Laird also sent letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation, calling on them to increase inspections and review of all federally owned dams as well as updating decades-old operating manuals for reservoirs.

“Over the next two years, California will spend over $1 billion on flood control projects,” Laird wrote. “It is our hope that the federal government can help us with its appropriate share.”

Brown, meanwhile, included Laird’s letter in brief, separate correspondence to the agency secretaries overseeing those departments.

“This is both an urgent need and a real opportunity!” Brown hand-wrote at the bottom of the letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Read more here:

Truck driver Arnold Delarosa, 48, of Mission, Texas, killed in fiery crash after he struck several of the cement pillars that support the overhead lanes of I-40 and burst into flames in Texas

1 dead in fiery semi crash on West I 40 at Bushland Road

The driver of semi tractor-trailer truck that was traveling eastbound on Interstate-40 has died after the vehicle left the highway, crashed through a guard rail and plummeted to the ground between the eastbound and westbound lanes, Sgt. Cindy Barkley of the Texas Department of Safety has confirmed.

Arnold Delarosa, 48, of Mission, Texas, has been identified as the driver. DPS released his name Monday afternoon after notifying his family.

The truck crashed down onto Farm to Market 2381 shortly after 9:30 a.m. where it struck several of the cement pillars that support the overhead lanes of I-40 and burst into flames.

DPS also confirmed the truck was the only vehicle involved in the accident, and no other injuries were reported. Delarosa was pronounced dead at the scene by a Potter County Justice of the Peace.

A cause for the accident had yet to be determined, Barkley said.

The wreck was at the Bushland Rd. overpass exit near the 57 mile marker. The trailer was loaded with truck tires, which when it burned created a large, rising column of heavy, black smoke that could be seen from downtown Amarillo before crews from the nearby Potter County Fire and Rescue Bushland post arrived on the scene.

According to officials at the crash site, the initial flames rose well above the I-40 bridge and charred the concrete while melting some of the road signs on the side of the structure which indicate the clearance height for the overpass.

In addition to Potter County Fire and Rescue, crews from DPS, Amarillo Fire Department, Texas Department of Transportation and Amarillo Emergency Services were on scene to assist.

The wreckage continued to burn well past noon, while multiple times firefighters sprayed the burning debris with foam to keep the flames down.

Interstate traffic was rerouted off I-40 in both directions following the accident. Westbound traffic was forced to exit the highway at the Arnot Rd. interchange, and was then rerouted around emergency crews at Blessen Dr. along the I-40 service road.

TxDot spokeswoman Sonja Gross said Bushland Rd., also known as Farm to Market 2381, under the overpass and westbound Interstate 40 would remained closed until engineers from Austin could arrive at the scene to conduct a full inspection. Gross said the inspector was expected to arrive by Monday evening.

While waiting for the inspection, TxDOT will turn the service road into a temporary two-way street to assist in re-routing traffic.

Should the bridge need repairs, Gross said it would require closing I-40 and Farm to Market 2381 for an extended period of time as well as requiring a new traffic plan for area residents.

“We won’t know the extent of the damage until their inspection,” Gross said. “For people in Bushland, they will want to leave early to get to places on time. We will update if FM 2381 can re-open, or if there is damage and cannot re-open.”

Eastbound traffic was also rerouted off the highway to Wells Street near Bushland Elementary and Middle Schools before a single lane was reopened around 10:40 a.m.

The first clean-up crews and vehicles arrived on the scene shortly before noon, moving pieces of the charred truck and tires so that firefighters could attempt to extinguish the flames that continued to burn underneath the wreckage.

Gross also reported that as of 4 p.m., cleanup crews remained at the site, hauling pieces of the truck to a landfill and attempting to clear debris from the road.

The accident remains under investigation by DPS and the Potter County Sheriff’s Office.