Tuesday, 27 September 2022

News

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A Cal Fire hand crew winds down for the day on Thursday, June 26, 2008. The firefighters had been working to clean up the burned acreage along Walker Ridge Road. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 




WALKER RIDGE Fire investigators have concluded that a vehicle was the cause of the Walker Fire, which on Thursday had reached 50-percent containment while making no additional gains in acreage.


Cal Fire Division Chief Dan Sendek said late Thursday that the Walker Fire was still at 14,500 acres in size, located mostly in remote wildland areas about 14 miles east of Clearlake Oaks.


The fire is expected to be fully contained by Saturday, Sendek said.


Originally, it was thought that the Walker Fire was one of hundreds of fires caused by lightning storms last weekend.


However, Sendek said it was sparked when metal likely on the undercarriage or other metal part on the underside of a vehicle scraped a rock.


In one day, the fire's containment grew significantly, from 10 to 50 percent containment, which Sendek credited to a lot of bulldozer work over the previous 24 hours, with 31 bulldozers on scene.


The winds were pushing the fire in a north northwest direction, said Sendek.


"With the continuing wind patterns, it doesn't appear to be a direct threat to Spring Valley," he said.


Nor was it a threat to Wilbur Springs, were residents had returned.


Cal Fire reported that residents were being allowed to return to the Double Eagle Ranch subdivision east of Clearlake Oaks, where evacuations had taken place last Sunday.


Sendek said the biggest concern for the Walker Fire was not a wind switch but rather unstable weather, with the possibility of thunder storms in the coming days.


Also on Thursday, the number of firefighting personnel on scene jumped from 592 the day before to 758 of which 487 were with Cal Fire with more hand crews arriving, said Sendek.


Late Thursday afternoon, along Walker Ridge Road, a few miles from where it turns to go toward Bartlett Springs, hand crews and bulldozer operators were at work on the steep hillsides, their work difficult to see from the road because of the thick pall of smoke that hung over the hills and valleys.


With the Walker Fire now nearing containment, firefighters and other personnel including Sendek are being demobilized and sent to other fires. "We're keeping what we need but not a person more," he said.


Personnel from the Walker Fire are being sent to areas including Butte and Shasta counties, where the fires are threatening communities, said Sendek.


"The big push is on the valley," he said, where the north wind is kicking up and more storms also are expected in the coming days.


Asked how the public can help the firefighting effort, Sendek said the main thing they wanted was the continued support of residents, and that donations were not necessary.


National Forest fires still growing


While the Walker Fire appears to be winding down, lightning-caused fires in the Mendocino National Forest's Upper Lake Ranger District are continuing to grow.


Forest officials reported that four large fires on the Upper Lake District had been broken out from the 49 others on the forest, and are being managed by the Northern Rockies Interagency Incident Management Team.


The fires, located about 15 miles northeast of Upper Lake, include the Big, 850 acres; the Back, 1,800 acres; the Mill, 400 acres; and the Monkey Rock, 450 acres. Thirty structures are threatened, two have been destroyed.


Those fires, referred to as the Soda Complex, total 3,500 acres and are 5-percent contained. Another 385 acres are burning elsewhere in the forest, officials reported. Of the 495 personnel fighting those fires, 412 are committed to the Soda Complex.


The situation also is worsening in neighboring Mendocino County, where 72 fires are actively burning in the Mendocino Lightning Complex, according to county and state officials.


The fires have burned 27,000 acres and are only 5-percent contained, with numerous communities under evacuation warnings and 900 residences threatened, officials reported.

 

 

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Heavy equipment was working near a Cal Fire repeater along Walker Ridge Road on Thursday, June 26, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 


Calculating costs and damages


The total cost to fight the Walker Fire is estimated at $1.3 million, compared to $4.7 million for Mendocino County's fires. Sendek said the money to fight the fires comes from the state's Emergency Fund.


Only a hunting cabin in Benmore Canyon, where the fire began, was lost, officials reported.


The Woodland-based Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, which operates Indian Valley Reservoir, suffered some losses, said General Manager Tim O'Halloran.


The district has a communications tower on Walker Ridge that links it to the reservoir as well as Cache Creek Dam. "On Sunday night, that was overtaken by the fire and all the equipment on it was destroyed," he said.


The equipment destroyed included solar panels, radios, antennas, cabling and a backup generator, he said. They're now working to replace what was lost, and are using temporary satellite service in the meantime.


Damage is estimated at around $75,000, he said, which could double if the communications tower's structural integrity was compromised by the heat.


The fire reached Indian Valley Reservoir, said O'Halloran, where the district temporarily shut down the campground until the situation is stabilized.


O'Halloran said Cal Fire protected the district's water tanks and structures at the campground, including the hold damtender's residence. "The fire got right up to the campground but didn't enter it."


The district worked with Monte Winters, a Lake County Office of Emergency Services liaison who lives in Spring Valley. O'Halloran said Winters kept the district up to date on the fire situation.


O'Halloran said the district was concerned that the fire might reach its hydroelectric plant and a transmission line that goes over the hill to a Pacific Gas and Electric substation. "We were concerned about losing that in the fire," he said.


On Tuesday, district officials shut the power plant off manually due to concerns the fire might reach it, which he said could cause the plant's two operating turbines to trip offline. That, in turn, could have shut off the district's 250 cubic feet per second water release, which could have disrupted water delivery to its water customers.


O'Halloran said Cal Fire allowed district staff into the area to turn off the power and shift the water being released to another outlet.


In the end, the district didn't lose any power lines, nor was service to its water users interrupted, O'Halloran said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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SACRAMENTO – Two state Senate policy committees have approved a bill by Assemblywoman Patty Berg and Assemblyman Lloyd Levine that would require doctors to answer their terminally ill patients’ questions about dying.


The state Assembly already approved AB 2747 by a 42-34 vote on May 28. The bill now heads to a vote of the full Senate.


The bill, which had effectively been stalled by religious and professional groups, reportedly gained new momentum late Wednesday when a series of last-minute hallway negotiations prompted the Catholic Church to drop its opposition.


Once Catholic representatives and a group of oncologists were satisfied that the bill was not an endorsement of assisted suicide, Assembly Bill 2747 was approved in both the Senate Health Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.


“This bill is about information, plain and simple,” said Berg, D-Eureka, who drew a firestorm of controversy in recent years for her attempts to enact an Oregon-style Death With Dignity law in California. “This bill does not make anything legal that isn’t legal now. But it does say that you can’t keep a patient in the dark just because you’re uncomfortable talking about dying.”


Opponents had been leery of AB 2747, which they feared could be a stalking horse for another attempt at allowing patients to control their own dying.


Californians Against Assisted Suicide, a group that opposes the bill, say it's another attempt by Berg and Levine to get an assisted suicide bill passed. Berg and Levine's Compassionate Choices Act legislation has failed over the past three years.


In staff analysis of the bill, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund argued against AB 2747, saying “the information and timeframes set forth in the bill are not always medically or legally appropriate, and the bill fails to require that information be provided to surrogates or family members when appropriate.” The group also argued that that medical prognoses often are wrong and physicians can't be sure when patients will die.


Berg's office reported that she overcame uncertainty about the bill by amending it to remove mention of the existing medical practice of palliative sedation, in which patients are kept under continual sedation while they die.


She also took a number of minor, clarifying amendments designed to make clear that the bill had nothing to do with her previous efforts on Death With Dignity.


“I think we’re finally getting to a place where we can put patients first,” said Berg. “What we’re talking about is the right to be informed.”


In testimony, Berg pointed to a recent study funded the federal government which found that patients who were told what to expect in their final days fared better during the dying process than those who received no such information.


The study said informed patients were less likely to be depressed, more likely to receive hospice care; and their families were better able to deal with their deaths than the uninformed.


The study also pointed out that only one in three terminally ill patients were likely to receive thorough information about their conditions. Berg’s bill aims to turn those numbers around, at least in California.


Among supporters of the bill are the California Medical Association, the California Psychological Association, California Nurses Association, California Commission on Aging, AIDS Project Los Angeles and Conference of California Seniors.


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LAKE COUNTY – With California a veritable tinder box this summer, the Lake County Fire Chiefs Association and Lake County Air Quality Management District say they're pleading with the public not to use fireworks this year in order to lessen the fire hazard.


The message from the chiefs and the Air Quality Management District comes a day after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made the same request, asking California residents not to buy even safe and sane fireworks this year because of the fire danger, according to a Sacramento Bee report.


With the resource demand of fire agencies depleted, any additional wildfires – even if they are small – will overburden firefighters and further degrade local air quality, they reported.


The statement put out by the fire and air quality officials Thursday urged county residents to enjoy the county's many larger fireworks shows that are conducted in a fire-safe manner – over the lake and far from personal exposure to individuals.


Safe and sane or personal fireworks only are allowed to be used or sold within the city of Lakeport and are illegal in all other parts of the county and the city of Clearlake, fire officials reported.


City Manager Jerry Gillham said they are moving ahead with allowing several nonprofit groups to have fireworks booths in the city this year.


Lakeport Fire Chief Ken Wells said safe and sane fireworks are an issue because many people purchase them and then take them outside of the city limits.


“Safe and sane fireworks will still start fire in grasslands,” he said.


He added that the fireworks need to stay within Lakeport's city limits, where they can be displayed in certain areas.


Wells noted that fines for illegal fireworks usage are going up.


On Wednesday California State Fire Marshal Kate Dargan issued a statement in which she put illegal fireworks traffickers on notice. "Consider this your first and only warning,” she said. “We don't care if you do it for fun or profit ... We are determined to put a stop to it.”


Illegal fireworks in California include sky rockets, bottle rockets, Roman candles, aerial shells, firecrackers and other miscellaneous types of fireworks that either explode, go up in the air, or move about the ground in an uncontrollable fashion, according to Dargan's statement. Any device that has not been classified as "Safe and Sane" ("State-Approved") in California is deemed by law to be "dangerous" and "illegal."


She said that Senate Bill 839, which became effective Jan. 1, increased the penalties for illegal fireworks while also removing a number of legal, procedural and practical hurdles to enforcing illegal fireworks statutes in the state.


SB 839 – whose supporters included the California State Firefighters Association, California Fire Chiefs Association and Cal fire – can raise the fines for illegal fireworks, depending on the gross weight of the fireworks found to be in a suspect's possession, to as much as $50,000 and/or not more than 1 year imprisonment in a state prison or county jail, according to Dargan.


In addition, parents may be held liable for any fire damage or injury caused by their children using illegal fireworks, Dargan reported.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Anthony Wanzer of Lakeport was among several private bulldozer operators working to cut fire lines on Wednesday, June 25, 2008. Photo by John Jensen.

 



WALKER RIDGE – Walker Ridge Road winds through thousands of acres of remote land, the trees and vegetation – once green with vegetation – now smoking, black and skeletal. {sidebar id=87}


Here and there, however, there are islands of still-green bushes and plants, and the occasional undamaged pine tree, usually surrounded by a newly cut bulldozer line.


There are also signs of life – a bird flying overhead, looking for a place to land amidst the charred landscape; quail running alongside of the road. There's even a rattlesnake lying on the gravel, washboarded road. He decides it's time to leave and eases over the edge of the road as he becomes the subject of a photo.


This charred landscape is what's left behind after the Walker Fire – burning since Sunday, about 14 miles east of Clearlake Oaks – has passed through.


Dan Sendek, a Cal Fire division chief for safety and training, said that the fire was making constant runs along Walker Ridge Wednesday afternoon, but by evening there was no active fire to be seen for miles.


It was a day of significant gains for firefighters, who kept the fire from gaining much ground.


The night before, dozer crews cut 20 miles of line in an effort to keep the fire from spreading, said Cal Fire Firefighter Talon Sutherland.


By day's end Wednesday the fire had reached 14,500 acres, with 10-percent containment, said Sutherland. There were 592 firefighting personnel in the county to work on the fire.


Sutherland said the fire was moving south southeast toward Highway 20; however, the highway remained open Wednesday night.


During the afternoon, Sendek said that more aerial water drops on the fire had taken place.

 

 

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A rattler makes his exit from the gravel roadway. The snake was one of a few signs of wildlife still present in the area on Wednesday, June 25, 2008. Photo by John Jensen.

 

 


He also reported that the cause of the fire was not lightning-related, although the official cause wasn't yet determined.


On Wednesday evening, most of the fire crews had been pulled out of the Walker Ridge area and sent to base camp at Konocti Conservation Camp, located along Highway 29 between Kelseyville and Lower Lake.


Keeping a watch at Walker Ridge


Staying on scene at Walker Ridge for the night were strike teams from Monterey and Placer counties, keeping an eye out to make sure there were no flareups.

 

 

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Robert Foxworthy is a member of a Monterey County strike team staying on scene on Walker Ridge on Wednesday, June 25, 2008. The team was scheduled to stay overnight to watch for flareups. Photo by John Jensen.
 

 


Farther down along the road, at about 7 p.m., was a crew of bulldozer operators who had previously been at the Wild Fire, which burned more than 4,000 acres in Solano and Napa counties.


The men are private contractors hired by Cal Fire to come in and put their bulldozing skills to work building containment lines.


The lines also will clear up the area so hand crews can come in and do the intensive work of cleaning up flareups, said Anthony Wanzer of Lakeport, who owns A/T Wanzer Grading and Excavating.


Wanzer and other members of the team – Adam Peters of RB Peters in Lakeport, Gary Calvi who owns his own Sebastopol-based construction company, and Jerry Shuck, also of Sebastopol – arrived at the fire about midday Wednesday “and went right to work,” said Wanzer.


The men said they've been receiving other calls from all over to come to work on other fires – including those in the Mendocino National Forest.

 

 

 

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The scorched landscape left behind by the Walker Fire stretches for miles along Walker Ridge Road. Photographed Wednesday, June 25, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 


They also agreed than they've had more calls for fire work this week that in the past five years.


Wanzer pointed across a draw to a nearby hill, where a path of white ash led up one side. He explained that the ash indicated an area where the fire had burned very hot.


The men were tired but seemed in good spirits Wednesday evening, despite the fact that they missed out on a steak dinner back at the base camp.


Calvi said they would remain there overnight. They've been sleeping in their trucks for days.


Local firefighters get a rest


Wednesday was a day of rest for members of the Lake County strike team, said Lakeport Fire Chief Ken Wells.


The firefighters – coming from all county fire protection districts – were the first responders over the weekend. The first day and a half on the Walker Fire, they didn't get much rest, said Wells.

 

 

 

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The smoky air turned the sunlight bright orange. Photographed Wednesday, June 25, 2008, along Walker Ridge Road. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 


Now, they're on a cycle of 24 hours on duty, 24 hours off, he said.


Wells said the local teams are supposed to be back on duty at 7 a.m. Thursday.


Elsewhere around the county, it's been fairly quiet, said Wells. Mostly his department is receiving a lot of calls about the smoke, and fielding questions from area residents concerned about how the air could possibly affect their health.


Area residents seem more vigilant and aware of fire concerns right now, he said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

 

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In the distance, a water tender and, beyond that, equipment on a far rise along Walker Ridge Road on Wednesday, June 25, 2008. Photo by John Jensen.
 

 


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Firefighters from a strike team from Kings and Fresno counties, including engineer Bill Williams (left) and Capt. Pat Papasergia (second from left) from Bakersfield Fire, wait to find out their assignment at the Konocti Conservation Camp on Tuesday, June 24, 2008. The men had arrived earlier in the day from the Wild Fire in Napa and Sonoma counties. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 



KONOCTI CONSERVATION CAMP – The Walker Fire made another huge leap in size late Tuesday, reaching an estimated 14,000 acres as firefighters attempted to set backfires to keep it away from homes and Highway 20.


Dan Sendek, division chief for safety and training at Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit's Delta Camp in Suisun City, said the fire – burning since Sunday – had reached 14,000 acres by 7 p.m., with only 5-percent containment.


Cal Fire is estimating the fire – located in mostly remote wildlands about 14 miles east of Clearlake Oaks – could eventually burn as much as 35,000 acres. No timeframe for containment has been given.


According to Cal Fire a total of 35 homes are threatened, 25 of them in the Double Eagle Ranch Subdivision, which was evacuated Sunday.


On Tuesday, two helicopters worked on dropping water on the fire, said Sendek, but air operations were not as extensive as they were on Monday, when Cal Fire sent in a DC-10 air tanker to drop retardant.


Firefighters lit backfires during the night and into the afternoon along Walker Ridge, said Sendek, in an attempt to stop the fire's advance toward Highway 20, which could force a closure.


The effort was "not terribly successful" due to too much humidity, Sendek said.


Incident Command Team Three is guiding the effort, said Sendek. It's one of 10 such teams in the state, four of which currently are in Northern California.


Operations are now headquartered at Konocti Conservation Camp, located off of Highway 29 between Kelseyville and Lower Lake.


By Tuesday evening, a total of 240 firefighters were on scene at the camp, said Sendek. The doubling since yesterday in the size of the firefighting force was largely due to the release of about half of the 500 or so firefighters at the Wild Fire, which burned more than 4,000 acres in Solano and Napa counties.


The Walker and Wild fires are now referred to as the Walker Complex, said Sendek, and both are being managed jointly from the camp.


A major goal was getting more firefighters on the incident in order to give some rest to the local and state fire crews who have been on the Walker Fire since Sunday. Initial responders had included all local fire districts along with Cal Fire.


"They'll work until they drop,” said Sendek. “We just don't want that to happen."


More firefighters are expected to arrive in the coming days, said Sendek, as they're released from other fire assignments.


"The expectation is, no one is going home," he said. "If they go anywhere, they're coming here."


Firefighters come from around the state


Strike teams from around the state were pulling into the camp Tuesday afternoon and evening, where they were waiting to find out their assignments for the Wednesday.


Frank Rohan, a battalion chief with the Kings County Fire Department and a leader of a strike team composed of engines from the Office of Emergency Services, and Captain Brian Torosian of the Clovis Fire Department were among those pulling into camp Tuesday from the Wild Fire. Their five-engine strike team also included members from the Bakersfield, Porterville and Fresno County fire departments.


Lake County was just another stop for the men in what has been months of firefighting. Rohan had been at the Summit Fire in Santa Cruz, and Torosian at the Humboldt in Butte County.


"People are being sent everywhere right now," said Rohan.


If there's anything they're noticing, it's that Northern California is having more trouble earlier in the season.


"Most of the action has been happening here this summer," said Rohan, rather than in the drier Southern California climates.


Engineer Bill Williams, a strike team member from Bakersfield Fire Department, said they're also seeing "more erratic fire behavior" on the fire lines. That includes trees, bushes and other vegetation that don't usually burn this time of year going up in flame.


Captain Pat Papasergia of Bakersfield Fire said sudden oak death also had proved to be a problem, with healthy looking trees suddenly collapsing in the fire areas.


Along with the firefighters arriving from the Wild Fire came a firefighter encampment that workers were in the process of setting up Tuesday evening in the little valley where the conservation camp sits.


There was a portable kitchen, a large tent area for meals, banks of portable toilets, dumpsters and other necessities put in place. Crews were busy weed whacking to clear a defensible space around the perimeter. Smoke from the region's fires hung thick in the air, turning the sun into a giant, blood-red ball.

 

 

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Inmate crews were setting up the firefighters' encampment at Konocti Conservation Camp on the evening of Tuesday, June 24, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 


As many as 800 firefighters could arrive at the camp in the days ahead, said Sendek, as more firefighters are released from other incidents.


Six inmate crews also have been sent to join the effort, said Sendek. The Walker Fire is not currently in the state's top three fires, which is where California National Guard members activated by the governor are headed.


In an effort to track the exact size of the fire, Kimberley Sone, a Cal Fire assistant state forest manager stationed at Boggs Mountain, said she'll walk the fire line on Wednesday, carrying a GPS device which will track the Walker Fire's precise dimensions.


With a big fire like the Walker, winds that come up can cause “long range spotting,” Sone explained. That means the wind picks up parts of the fire and carries them long distances, creating spot fires away from the fire's main body. Resources then need to be sent to deal with those spot fires individually.


On Tuesday Cal Fire reported that 842 lightning fires were burning throughout the state. The Associated Press reported the fires resulted from more than 8,000 strikes in the storm last weekend.


“You just can't plan for that,” Sendek said.


He added, “I'm sure there are still fires out there people haven't found.”


Sendek said the fires have hit before the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit's peak summer staffing levels, which don't begin until July 1.


There are no cost estimates yet on how much the firefighting effort will cost.


More help may be on the way. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Oregon is sending 2,400 firefighters to aid in the battle against California's wildland fires.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

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Firefighters set up their own places to sleep at the camp on Tuesday, June 24, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 


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LAKE COUNTY – With lightning-caused wildfires raging around Northern California, the forecast for more chances of thunderstorms beginning on Friday evening is not welcome news.


The National Weather Service in Sacramento has issued a special weather statement for Lake County forecasting an upper level flow to move up from Southern California some time Friday into Saturday, which should help clear out some of the smoke filling the Clear Lake basin.


However, the flow may just exchange the current smoke with smoke from other nearby fires.


But more troubling is the threat of thunderstorms to return to the surrounding mountains starting on Friday.


With 54 fires started by lightning strikes in the Mendocino National Forest last weekend, the National Weather Service forecast for more storms with limited moisture is not welcome news, although moisture with these storms should increase through the day on Saturday.


Nighttime thunderstorms are a possibility through the weekend for most of Northern California, where fires are still raging many of them unattended according to the National Weather Service.


To track lightning strikes, visit http://www.sloweather.com/lightning.htm.


E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – Among the major firefighting efforts continuing around the North Coast are those in the Mendocino National Forest, where about 3,000 acres have burned in a series of 54 lightning-cased fires that began last weekend.


Forest spokesperson Phebe Brown reported Wednesday that the fires – now about 20-percent contained – are estimated to be fully contained by June 30. Of the 54 reported fires, 12 are contained, six are controlled and nine are in patrol status.


Brown said six fires are staffed and 13 have no personnel on them currently, with three of the fires burning together.


The majority of the acreage burning is on the Upper Lake Ranger District, said Brown.


The largest of the fires is the Back, located southwest of Lake Pillsbury, which has burned 1,800 acres and is 42-percent contained, said Brown. Also in Lake County is the Big Fire, west of Lake Pillsbury, which has scorched 850 acres and has zero containment.


Other major fires across the forest are the Monkey Rock Fire in the Yuki Wilderness, at 50 acres with 0-percent containment, and the Mill Fire, which has burned 40 acres and also has no current containment level, according to Brown.


Brown reported that two structures were destroyed in the Big Fire in Lake County. Another 40 structures are threatened across the entire forest. No evacuations are in place.


The fires are burning in 6-foot chaparral, oak woodlands, grass, timber and mixed conifer across the forest's three ranger districts in Lake, Mendocino and Tehama counties, Brown reported.


Resources committed to the fires currently include 410 personnel, among them 10 fire crews, from the US Forest Service, Cal Fire, US Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Indian Affairs and private contractors, according to Brown.


On scene are 28 engines, three bulldozers, seven water tenders, five helicopters and fire support personnel, Brown reported. An Interagency Incident Management Team arrived Wednesday to assist in managing the fires on the Upper Lake District.


No injuries have been reported, according to Brown.


There is no current cost estimate for fighting the fire.


Due to the fire, Brown said Elk Mountain Road (M-1) at the Bear Creek Road (M-10) junction and near Soda Creek has been closed by Lake County due to fire activity associated with the Back

Incident.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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CLEAR LAKE RIVIERA – Election results for the Clear Lake Riviera Community Association is in and is arguably the most active and controversial election in the history of the community.


With 1,971 votes cast for seven candidates for four positions on the board, the race was very close with only nine votes between fourth and fifth place.


“This was the highest turnout ever,” said outgoing First Vice President Sid Donnell. “We had well over 500 ballots in this election. I think the highest we had before was 412 in 1998.”


There is a possibility of 2,810 ballots that could be cast; the quorum requirement is 10 percent of this or 281 ballots.


The results are:


  • Donna Moeller, 324; appointed

  • Walter Zuercher, 312; appointed

  • Patricia Howell, 286; appointed

  • Anthony Gniadek, 280; appointed

  • James Irwin, 271

  • Darrell Watkins, 252

  • Denise Frane, 246


The new board’s term will start on July 1 and the first public meeting will be on July 22 at the association office. They will replace Alan Siegal, Sid Donnell and Sandra Orchard.


The election is not without its controversy. There was a misprint on the ballot's instruction and a followup letter was sent out in an attempt to clarify the error.


Some are claiming that this makes the ballot invalid. Lois Townsend was very vocal during the count, stating that it was an illegal election.


Several residents have been expressing their dissatisfaction with the actions of the association and advocating for it to be disbanded. There has been a letter-writing campaign to one of the local newspapers expressing their opinions. Anthony Gniadek and Darrell Watkins ran on the platform that the association be dissolved.


When asked why the association didn’t respond to the allegations the response was that they wanted to take the high road and not get involved in the controversy.


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LAKEPORT A man accused of stabbing to death a neighbor last November was due to appear in court for a preliminary hearing Thursday, but the case has had another delay.


Ivan Garcia Oliver, 30, was due in Lake County Superior Court Thursday morning.


He's accused of the murder of Michael Dodele, 67.


Oliver is alleged to have stabbed Dodele to death in the trailer Dodele recently had moved into in the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in Lakeport. He also is facing charges for having been in possession of shank he had fashioned from a toothbrush in the Lake County Jail.


Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff said the Thursday preliminary hearing was canceled because Oliver didn't have an attorney to appear with him.


Oliver's defense attorney, Bruce Laning, last week left his position with Lake Legal Defense Services Inc., which provides indigent defense services in Lake County, said Stephen Carter, who administers the program.


Hinchcliff said the case was held over until Monday, at which time they'll discuss rescheduling the preliminary hearing.


"I think it's just going to be continued to August to get an attorney appointed for him," said Hinchcliff.


Carter agreed that the case may not return to court until August, which he said will be determined Monday.


This isn't the first time Oliver's preliminary hearing has been delayed.


His preliminary hearing, which will determine if he will be held for trial, was originally scheduled for May.


Oliver had been transferred by the US Marshal's Office to San Diego County, where he's facing federal charges in an illegal dumping case, as Lake County News has reported.


Although officials had assured Hinchcliff that Oliver would be back in Lake County in time, he didn't arrive in time for the hearing, having been taken at one point to Kansas City.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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WASHINGTON On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would stop a tax on 25 million middle-class families, including an estimated 45,000 tax filers in the 1st Congressional District, without adding to our national debt.


The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Relief Act of 2008 (HR 6275) keeps millions of Americans from being hit by a tax originally designed to only affect the very wealthy.


“American families are already strained by rising gas, food and health care prices, and don’t deserve to be caught in a tax originally meant for the rich,” said Congressman Mike Thompson. “The last thing these families need is a larger tax burden, and I am very pleased that we were able to stop the tax increase without adding to our national debt.”


The legislation provides one-year relief from the AMT without adding to the deficit by closing loopholes in the tax code, encouraging tax compliance and repealing excessive government subsidies given to oil companies.


“I believe we need to permanently fix the AMT problem, but that’s going to require a broader effort to simplify our tax code and improve fairness,” added Thompson. “I’m very hopeful that the next president will be willing to make that happen in a fiscally responsible way.”


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Military Funeral Honors Team Firing Party Commander Rich Feiro directs the three-round volley. Photo by Ginny Craven.




LAKEPORT – Through the haze of a smoke-filled day a veteran was laid to rest on Tuesday.


George Oliver Elder had no known living relatives and a handful of friends, mostly his neighbors. However, this man and his service to his country were not forgotten.


The Military Funeral Honors Team of Lake County assembled at Hartley Cemetery to pay tribute to one of their own. No one from the team had ever made Elder’s acquaintance. That was of no concern as he was one of their brothers. George Elder served honorably in the Air Force from 1957 to 1961, ensuring him a place in the hearts of his comrades and fellow veterans.

 

 

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The Patriot Guard Riders on their way to Veterans Circle. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

 


Riding motorcycles and flying flags, members of the Patriot Guard Riders made their way down the road at Hartley Cemetery to Veterans Circle, Elder’s final resting place. A group of Elder’s neighbors and patriots supporting troops and veterans gathered for the ceremony.


The funeral honors team fired the traditional three-round volley and the bugler’s rendition of “Taps” rang hauntingly through the cemetery.

 

 

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Chaplain Woody Hughes spoke at the Tuesday service. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

 


Woody Hughes, chaplain for the team, spoke and a two-person honor guard from the United States Air Force provided flag duties, carefully folding and presenting an American flag representative of Elder’s service.

 

 

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The Air Force Honor Guard folded a flag representing Elder's service in the military. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

 


Terre Logsdon, Elder’s neighbor, received the flag from the USAF honor guard. The flag was then provided to the Avenue of Flags, a community memorial to veterans. Elder’s flag will fly alongside hundreds of veteran flags on Memorial Day and Veterans Day every year.


George Oliver Elder was not forgotten.

 

 

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Elder's neighbor and friend, Terre Logsdon, received the flag, which was then donated to the Avenue of Flags. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

 


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