Thursday, 25 July 2024

Regional

The Park fire. Image courtesy of Cal Fire.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA — A fire that began Wednesday afternoon in Chico’s Bidwell Park has burned thousands of acres and prompted calls for evacuations in Butte and Tehama counties.

The Park fire began just before 3 p.m. Wednesday off Upper Park Road in Upper Bidwell Park, east of Chico, and has burned north toward Cohasset and Richardson Springs.

By Wednesday night, Cal Fire said the Park fire had burned 6,465 acres, with containment at 3%.

Cal Fire said the incident is under unified command with the city of Chico Fire Department as this incident started in Bidwell Park, a “mutual threat zone” area of Butte County.

Officials said the fire is well established, with fire personnel focusing on evacuations and structure defense while concurrently building direct containment lines utilizing bulldozers, fire crews and fire engines.

More resources have been ordered and are inbound from various areas throughout Northern California.

As of Thursday night, resources assigned included 216 personnel, five helicopters — including three that were working overnight — as well as 24 engines, eight dozers, six water tenders, six crews and 17 other assigned resources.

Email Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow her on Twitter, @ERLarson, or Lake County News, @LakeCoNews.


The Park fire evacuation zone around Chico, California. Courtesy image.


The Park fire evacuation zone in Tehama County, California. Courtesy image.

Gov. Newsom announces increased CHP deployment in Oakland. Courtesy photo.

Ramping up efforts to crack down on crime in the East Bay, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced he will increase the deployment of California Highway Patrol officers in Oakland and announced the recovery of 1,142 stolen cars, the seizure of 55 guns linked to crimes, and the arrests of 562 suspects since February.

As part of this CHP’s expanded operation, the governor will quadruple the number of shifts officers conduct in Oakland and increase surge operations over the next four months in the city, providing a CHP presence in the city every day of the week.

The operations, which will begin on Monday, will target organized crime, sideshows, carjackings, and other criminal activity seven days a week.

CHP will refer certain complex cases to the Office of the Attorney General for prosecution.

“While we are encouraged by some positive trends, the lawlessness we’re seeing on the streets of Oakland is unacceptable. Building on our partnership with local law enforcement, I'm deploying a new surge of CHP officers to help provide the people of Oakland and the East Bay the safety and security they deserve,” said Newsom.

“The California Highway Patrol’s top priority is the safety and well-being of the public. In our unwavering commitment to keeping California communities safe, we will continue to work relentlessly with our law enforcement partners to create safer environments for everyone, ensuring that criminals are apprehended and held accountable,” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee.

"As a longtime East Bay resident, I stand united with the Governor’s Office and our state and local partners as we take necessary steps to ensure the Oakland community is a safe place for families like mine to work, live, and grow," said Attorney General Rob Bonta. "The California Department of Justice is bringing our legal and law enforcement expertise to this collaborative public safety effort, and will continue holding bad actors accountable so that Oakland residents can thrive and prosper. When we work together, we get results. I am proud to stand with the Oakland community, Governor Newsom, and our state and law enforcement partners as we combat crime and seek justice for our communities."

Thursday’s announcement builds on Gov. Newsom’s strategy to improve public safety in the East Bay and the surrounding area, including through an initial CHP surge operation in February and ongoing increased enforcement focused on combating auto theft, cargo theft, retail crime, violent crime, and high-visibility traffic enforcement.

Since February 2024, CHP has recovered 1,142 stolen vehicles, seized 55 crime-linked firearms, and arrested 562 suspects.

This month’s operation also led to the arrest of a freeway road shooting suspect, who was identified through one of CHP’s newly installed high-tech “Flock” cameras announced by Governor Newsom in April.

Investing in Oakland

Earlier this year, the Governor released Caltrans’ 10-Point Action Plan in support of the city’s efforts to improve street safety and beautification.

The comprehensive plan outlines actionable steps the state is taking to further support the city through blight abatement efforts, homeless encampment resolutions, community outreach initiatives, employment opportunities, and other beautification and safety efforts. A detailed overview of the state’s investments in Oakland and Alameda County is available here.

As part of the state’s public safety investments in the region, in February, California offered the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office resources from the California National Guard, including experienced prosecutors, for prosecution efforts to take down organized drug-related criminal enterprises.

On Wednesday, the Governor’s Office notified the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office that the Cal Guard Attorneys would be redeployed to the California Attorney General’s Office, where they will begin prosecuting the cases originating in Alameda County.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death of a woman that occurred during a wildland fire earlier this week.

Lt. Andrew Porter said the remains of the woman have not yet been positively identified, but they are believed to be those of 66-year-old Dagmar Stankova of Covelo.

At 2:17 p.m. Monday, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to assist Cal Fire with a wildland fire in the 94500 block of Mina Road, north of Covelo, according to Porter’s report.

The fire was reported to be a rapidly moving wildfire with one structure possibly fully involved and one person potentially missing, Porter said.

Upon arrival in the area, Porter said deputies contacted an adult male at the property who stated a burn pile had escaped and started the wildfire.

The man reported that a family member, Stankova, was missing and had last been seen in and around the residence attempting to extinguish flames, Porter said.

Due to the intensity of the fire, deputies were not able to access the area of the residence so they proceeded to work on evacuating people in the surrounding neighborhood. Porter said a missing person report was ultimately taken for Stankova as she had not been located.

On Tuesday at approximately 2 a.m., the agency was notified by fire personnel that suspected burned human remains had been located in a structure that had burned during this fire, Porter reported.

Sheriff's office detectives, along with Cal Fire prevention officers, responded to the scene which still had active fire burning. Porter said investigators located the human remains and due to the burned condition of the body, investigators were not able to make a positive identification of the deceased.

During the investigation, Porter said it was determined that Stankova had last been seen adjacent to the residence attempting to protect her home from the fire with a garden hose.

Porter said the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Coroner's Division is actively working to identify the human remains that were located; however the remains are believed to be Stankova based on the investigation and circumstances of the fire.

Stankova's next of kin is aware of this case and is assisting with this investigation, Porter said.

An autopsy for the deceased located during this investigation is being scheduled and the final cause and manner of death will not be released until the autopsy and toxicology reports are available, Porter said.

The coroner's case for the unidentified decedent is being investigated under Mendocino County Sheriff's Office case #2024-13948. Cal Fire prevention officers are conducting the investigation regarding the cause of the fire related to this incident.

Anyone with any information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center at 707-463-4086. Information can also be provided anonymously through the non-emergency tip-line at 707-234-2100.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — A Point Arena man has been arrested for a Thursday homicide that was reported to have occurred during an argument.

Pan Jasper Brady, 47, was taken into custody for the murder of a 54-year-old male from Annapolis, according to a report from Lt. Andrew Porter of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

At 8:06 p.m. Thursday, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center received a 911 call from Brady reporting that he had just shot a person, Porter said.

Porter said Brady reported that he had been in an argument with the victim before retrieving a handgun and shooting the victim. Brady secured the firearm while awaiting the arrival of responding law enforcement personnel.

Sheriff's deputies and California State Parks Peace Officers responded. Due to safety concerns related to the nature of the call, medical personnel staged in the area awaiting law enforcement, Porter said.

Upon the arrival of law enforcement personnel, Porter said the victim was found to have succumbed from injuries that included at least one gunshot wound.

Porter said Brady was detained by deputies and Mendocino County Sheriff's Office detectives responded to take over the investigation.

Brady was ultimately arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on a charge of homicide, and an additional charge for using a firearm during the commission of a homicide. Porter said Brady is being held in custody in lieu of $1 million bail.

Porter said the identity of the victim will be withheld until his legal next of kin has been notified of his death.

An autopsy will be scheduled for the victim of this case and the official cause and manner of death will not be released until the final autopsy report is available, Porter added.

This case is actively being investigated and anyone with information related to this incident is encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office detectives by calling 707-463-4086.

Information can also be provided anonymously by calling the non-emergency tip line at 707-234-2100.

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Thursday ordered insurance companies to preserve residential property insurance coverage for approximately 46,000 policyholders affected by the Thompson fire in Butte County after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an emergency declaration on July 3.

The commissioner’s bulletin shields those living within the perimeters or adjoining zip codes of the Thompson fire from insurance non-renewal or cancellation for one year from the date of the governor’s emergency declaration regardless of whether they suffered a loss.

“Consumers affected by the Thompson fire should have peace of mind knowing that they get to keep their insurance coverage as they take the time to assess, rebuild, and begin the long recovery process. My top priority is consumer protection for all Californians, and especially vulnerable consumers and disaster survivors,” said Commissioner Lara. “My moratorium order is just one of the many actions that I am taking to provide relief to homeowners while I continue to work with stakeholders and climate experts to address the root causes of these ever-intensifying natural disasters in order to prevent even greater losses.”

The commissioner’s ability to issue moratoriums is a result of a California law he authored in 2018 while serving as state senator in order to provide temporary relief from insurance non-renewals and cancellations to residents living within or adjacent to a gubernatorial-declared wildfire disaster.

Since 2019, Commissioner Lara’s actions have protected nearly 4 million homeowners. Thursday’s order protects an estimated 46,000 policyholders in 18 zip codes for one year, effective July 3, 2024.

Consumers who were non-renewed prior to the emergency declaration date and are unable to obtain insurance or are dissatisfied with their current coverage should contact the California Department of Insurance for assistance in understanding their options and tools.

Consumers can go to the Department of Insurance website to see if their zip code is included in the moratorium. Consumers should contact the Department of Insurance at 800-927-4357 or via online chat or email at insurance.ca.gov if they believe their insurance company is in violation of this law, or have additional claims-related questions.

NAPA, Calif. — A Napa County school principal is facing prosecution for failing to report that one of his staff members was suspected of sexually abusing a student.

Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley on Thursday announced the filing of one charge of failure of a mandated reporter to report suspected child abuse or neglect against American Canyon High School Principal Andrew Goff, 61, of Napa.

The case is in connection with allegations of child molestation made against a former track and field coach and teacher at the high school.

As an employee of the Napa Valley Unified School District, Goff is a mandated reporter and it is alleged he was notified of a suspected sexual relationship between a student and faculty member Brad Rowell, 41.

The district attorney further alleges that Goff failed to report this information in a timely manner to either law enforcement or child welfare services.

Rowell, who is being held at the Napa County Department of Corrections with a bail amount of $500,000, is charged with 25 felony counts of lewd act upon a child, unlawful sexual intercourse, oral copulation of a person under 18, and possession of photos and videos depicting a minor engaging in sexual conduct.

It’s also alleged that the sex crimes Rowell is accused of took place in multiple jurisdictions, that the crimes involved vulnerable victims and that he committed the crimes from a position of trust.

The charge against Goff of failure of a mandated reporter to report child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to six months confinement in a county jail or by a fine of $1,000, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Arraignment is scheduled for July 11 2024, at 8:30 a.m., in Napa County Superior Court.

“The point of mandated reporter laws is to ensure that the most vulnerable among us who may have difficulty finding the courage or the resources to ask for help are given support,” Deputy District Attorney Shashawnya Worley said. “Our office will enforce those laws so that crime survivors are protected, cases are investigated and ongoing abuse is stopped.”

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