Monday, 15 July 2024


A home, located on Hamilton Street in Nice, was destroyed in a fire on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 13, 2010. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

NICE – A lit cigarette is believed to have caused a fire that destroyed a home in Nice on Wednesday.

The fire was reported in the older doublewide modular home on Hamilton Street shortly before 3 p.m., according to Northshore Fire Protection District Chief Jim Robbins.

The fire was accessed from Pyle Road, off of Highway 20, according to reports from the scene.

A young woman who was renting the home fell asleep while smoking, Robbins said. The cigarette caught a Christmas tree in the home on fire.

The woman awoke to a lot of heat and smoke, and she tried to throw water on the fire to put it out, said Robbins. However, by that time, the fire had moved to smaller couch.

Robbins said the woman then escaped from the home uninjured.

The call initially came in as a smoke check in the area. Robbins said as he drove to Nice from Lucerne with one engine, he could see a pillar of black smoke.

By the time firefighters arrived, the fire already was well under way, he said.

Older modulars burn quickly, Robbins said. “All they need is about 10 minutes.”

The trailer had a secondary roof built over it. “That caused us a lot of problems with collapsing,” said Robbins.

Three engines and 12 personnel from Northshore Fire's Nice, Lucerne and Upper Lake stations responded, Robbins said. By 5 p.m. they had extinguished the fire and mopped up the scene.

Robbins said the lost property is valued at about $80,000.

“It's a total loss,” said Robbins. “She lost everything she had in there.”

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The fire gave off a column of black smoke that could be seen from a distance. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

ST. HELENA – Firefighters were able to save a St. Helena home that caught fire Tuesday morning.

The fire was reported at 7:34 a.m. Tuesday in the 300 block of Zinfandel Lane in St. Helena, according to Pete Muñoa, Cal Fire battalion chief and Napa County fire marshal.

The 2,800-square-foot home was undergoing renovation, Muñoa said. An electrician who came to work on the residence discovered the fire and called 911.

Muñoa said units and firefighters from St. Helena City Fire, Napa County Fire, Cal Fire and Calistoga Fire Departments responded to the incident.

The fire was contained at 9:40 a.m. but Muñoa said units remained at scene until 12:30 p.m.

He said the fire is believed to have originated in the subfloor beneath the hallway and bathroom area. The home was not occupied due to the construction work and no injuries were reported.

Muñoa said that damage is estimated at $250,000 with an estimated structural save of $1,000,000.

Investigators from the Napa County Fire Marshal’s Office are working on determining the cause.

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LAKE COUNTY – The county of Lake is encouraging all residents to be counted in the 2010 US Census.

Census Day is April 1, 2010.

The information gathered by the US Census – a national population count that occurs every 10 years – is used to determine levels of state and federal funding that come to local government, schools and nonprofit organizations.

The data also is very useful to numerous businesses.

If Lake County's population is undercounted, the county will be in jeopardy of not receiving its fair share of funding for public services such as emergency services, roads, schools, hospitals and job training, officials reported. The census population count also is important in that it determines electoral districts.

Census questionnaires will be delivered or mailed to households in March.

With only 10 questions, the 2010 Census questionnaire is one of the shortest census questionnaires in history and takes just 10 minutes to complete.

All information provided on the questionnaires is kept confidential, protected and safe.

County officials said they're doing their part to spread the message of the importance of the 2010 Census.

They have created a Complete Count Committee made up of local representatives to assist the county in achieving as complete a count as possible and to build local awareness for the 2010 Census.

Local agencies are encouraged to become involved in building this local awareness through the sharing and publicizing of census information.

More information about the US Census can be found at the following Web sites: , or .

Contact the Lake County Administrative Office at 707-263-2580 if you would like more information and to become a part of building awareness for the 2010 Census.

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SACRAMENTO – Updated fire and building codes developed to increase fire resistance in buildings and homes across California will take effect this month.

The new codes, which will be enforced by Cal Fire's Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) and fire and building departments throughout the state, bring California in line with the 2009 International Building, Fire, and Residential Code.

The new codes were adopted by the California Building Standards Commission.

“Providing an enhanced fire safe environment is important as we promote a sustainable living and working environment,” said Acting State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover. “The reduction of fire not only protects our residents but also enhances our environment and business community. These standards will increase fire safety and awareness in communities throughout California.”

Each year wildfires char thousands of acres and destroy hundreds, even thousands, of homes in California. A portion of the newly adopted codes focus on regulations for homes built in the wildland-urban interface in order to make them more ember resistant, increasing structure survivability.

Additional amendments relate to tire storage, dry cleaning, and automatic extinguishing systems.

A key component in the 2010 code adoption is the addition of residential fire sprinklers in all new one and two family and town-home construction.

For many years, installation of fire sprinkler systems has only been required in office buildings and multi-family dwellings like apartments. These sprinkler systems are proven to save lives and extinguish fires. More than 100 jurisdictions in California already have a local residential fire sprinkler ordinance.

For more information about fire and building codes in your community, contact your local fire department or building department.

Information concerning fire and panic safety can also be obtained by visiting the Cal Fire-OSFM Web site, .

To review all of the new codes to take effect in 2011, visit .

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LAKEPORT – Harsh winter weather and the flu season heighten the need for blood donations and Lakeport Fire Protection District is helping to fill the void.

The Blood Bank of the Redwoods is running its fourth annual Bucket Brigade. The blood bank supports Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties.

Lakeport Fire will host their very first blood drive this Saturday, Jan. 16, right in their truck bay at 445 N. Main St. in Lakeport from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. Middletown Fire Department’s drive was on Dec. 12.

Last year, Geyserville Fire Department won the Bucket Brigade trophy, but this year Brian Hirscher, vice president of the Lakeport Volunteer Firefighter's Association, hopes to change that.

Hirscher feels the community can come through with more than 102 donors, which is how many Geyserville Fire recruited to win last year’s contest.

“Fire departments are very competitive, in a good way,” he said. “This is something that benefits the community greatly.”

Hirscher encouraged people to register for the donation, even though walk-ins will be happily accepted. There have been times where the community has had such a positive response that the drive was overwhelmed with willing donors, he said.

To register, donors may pay a visit to the station, call Blood Bank of the Redwoods at 707-545-1222, Extension 163, or visit the blood bank’s Web site, .

Donors at Lakeport Fire will receive a light barbecue lunch and a free event T-shirt.

Last year 1,155 people donated blood during the Bucket Brigade from 40 different fire departments through 34 blood drives between the months of November 2008 and January 2009, according to blood bank officials.

“The amount of donors has gone up every year,” said Andrea Casson, account coordinator for Blood Bank of the Redwoods. “The blood is priceless because each unit can help up to three patients, but that’s not where the relief ends. It also affects the lives of those patients’ friends and family.”

A person should only donate one unit, or about one pint, of whole blood each visit, according to the American Association of Bloods Banks. The average person contains 10 pints of blood in his or her body according to their Web site, .

The American Association of Bloods Banks estimated that about 9.5 million people donate blood every year. The average daily national need for blood is approximately 40,000 units.

Although the Bucket Brigade does generate a lot of blood during the winter flu season, winter is not the only time blood is needed.

When high school and college students go out of town for the summer, the need increases, as they're important contributors, said Casson.

But students don’t hold out when blood is needed. High school students alone contribute 20 percent of the blood supply overall, said Kent Corley, fund development manager and Blood Bank of the Redwoods spokesman.

Corley said the blood is used for various reasons including acute blood loss and surgery, gastrointestinal bleeds and oncology.

According to Blood Bank of the Redwoods' Web site, 37 percent of the US population is eligible to donate – yet only 5 percent do on a yearly basis.

Blood Bank of the Redwoods sends people to Lakeport every two to three weeks to conduct blood drives. The most recent was Sunday and was hosted by Wal-Mart in Clearlake. The next drive after the Bucket Brigade is over will be at Grocery Outlet in Lakeport on Jan. 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.


The American Association of Bloods Banks recommends that donors be 16 years of age and at least 110 pounds. All donors must also pass physical and health history examinations before being able to donate. Donors should expect to spend more than an hour donating blood.

Only whole blood is being collected at the different fire departments and will be broken down into its three components for storage at the laboratory. An eligible donor can give one pint of blood, which weighs almost a pound, every 56 days, according to the American Association of Bloods Banks.

The blood supplies and demands vary due to unpredictable events and emergencies. Typically blood centers store enough blood for three days and most donations are available 48 hours after being donated, the American Association of Bloods Banks reported.

“When usage is down, we decrease the number of blood drives, so all drives are important,” said Corley. “When the need increases, we add drives. It is a constant balancing act.”

E-mail Tera deVroede at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

Woody Hughes regularly gets great views from his front porch, and here's one spectacular sunrise he photographed.


LAKE COUNTY – Following the publication of a gallery of readers' photos last weekend, Lake County News has received dozens more great photos of the county captured by its residents.

The following sampling of the photos shows an assortment of different locations and times of year, plus wildlife.

If you have a great photo of Lake County that you'd like to share for a future gallery, send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Lucerne resident Ron Keas caught Mt. Konocti peaking out of the fog on Saturday, January 9, 2010.




Great egrets photographed by Miguel Lanigan near his Clearlake Oaks cottage.




Carrie Lauenroth of Kelseyville took this picture from the Lakeport Yacht Club.




Deborah Thompson took this picture of Clear Lake from on top of Elk Mountain on Sunday, December 13, 2009.




Clearlake Oaks resident Miguel Lanigan captured this photo of the moon peering out from behind at tree on the night of Friday, January 1, 2010. He used a Panasonic FZ18 camera to get the shot.




Dale Grable photographed this sunset from Lucerne last year, around the time that school started.

BLUE LAKES – A young Lakeport man lost his life and three others were injured in an early morning crash that occurred near Blue Lakes.

Jared Templeton, 21, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash after being trapped underwater in a vehicle that went into Blue Lakes at about 2:20 a.m. Wednesday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

CHP Officer Steve Tanguay said Heather Thompson, 22, of Lakeport was driving her 1988 Ford Thunderbird westbound on Highway 20, just west of Blue Lakes Road, with Templeton, 23-year-old Zachary Walston of Lakeport and 21-year-old Kathleen Riley of Kelseyville riding in the car with her.

The CHP reported that there was a light rain occurring at the time of the crash.

As Thompson's vehicle was coming out of a righthand curve in the roadway, she lost control of the Thunderbird, which veered to the left and went off of the roadway and struck a tree south of the roadway, according to the report. The vehicle continued out of control to the south and went into Blue Lakes.

As the vehicle began to submerge into the lake, Thompson, Walston and Riley – all of whom were wearing seat belts – were able to get out of the vehicle and made it safely to the shore, Tanguay reported.

However, for an unknown reason, Templeton – who was sitting in the front right seat of the vehicle and also was belted into his seat – couldn't escape, officials reported.

Walston and Riley attempted to dive down to the vehicle to get Templeton out, but due to the depth and temperature of the water, they were unsuccessful, Tanguay said.

Northshore Fire Protection District, assisted by Lakeport Fire, sent a large number of resources to the scene, according to Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown.

He said the agency responded to the scene with its dive rescue team, three engines from its Upper Lake and Lucerne stations, three advanced life support ambulances from Upper Lake, Nice and Lucerne, a rope/extrication rescue from Clearlake Oaks and two battalion chiefs. Lakeport Fire also sent a medic unit, for a total of 16 rescue personnel on scene.

Brown said when the rescue teams arrived, the vehicle was submerged 15 feet below the surface of the water, just before the narrow section of Upper Blue Lakes.

Northshore Fire crews conducted a low angle rope system down the embankment, which required using chainsaws to remove trees and brush and establish lights, Brown said.

The Northshore Dive Team got into the water and reached the vehicle at 3:30 a.m., said Brown. The CHP's report on the collision stated that rescuers couldn't reach Templeton's body while the car was submerged.

Brown said dive team members attached tow cables and begun the process of removing the vehicle. A tow truck was used to pull the Thunderbird up out of the lake, Tanguay said.

Fire officials pronounced Templeton dead at the scene, according to the report.

Brown said Northshore Fire transported Thompson, Walston and Riley to Sutter Lakeside Hospital by Upper Lake Fire ambulance for minor to moderate injuries sustained in the collision.

Tanguay said alcohol is not considered to be a factor in the crash.

Northshore Fire Incident Command contacted the state Department of Fish and Game, Lake County Environmental Health, the Office of Emergency Services and worked with the Lake County Sheriff's Office for a possible hazardous materials spill into Blue Lakes, Brown said.

The Lake County Sheriff's Patrol and booms were ready if a film was present at daylight, he said.

The Department of Fish and Game, which took the lead on the hazmat operation, cleared Northshore Fire at 7:15 a.m., Brown reported.

CHP Officer Josh Dye is investigating the collision, according to the report.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

WILLITS – Officials are warning about a telephone scam hitting the city of Willits.

On Jan. 8, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received several complaints of a telephone scam occurring at local businesses in and around the city of Willits, according to sheriff's Capt. Kurt Smallcomb.

A male caller was telephoning local businesses and advising the owner/management that he was a deputy with the "sheriff's office" and that one of their employee's had been arrested or was in the hospital, Smallcomb said.

The caller would purposely be vague when describing the employee and would wait for the owner/manager to volunteer information, Smallcomb explained.

The caller would then request that the owner/manager send between $300-$1,000, via Western Union, to assist the employee, according to the report.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office does not attempt to elicit money for or from anyone, Smallcomb said. Anytime an unknown person requests that you send money, via Western Union, then you should be suspicious of that person and contact your local law enforcement.

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Golden Fish is the main character in author and artist Diane Arruda's Dream River Adventure Series. Image courtesy of Diane Arruda.


LAKEPORT – “There are some dreams forgotten and some dreams remembered, but then there are those special dreams that inspire!”

That's the opening line from “The Ancient One: Once Undiscovered is NOW Discovered,” the latest children's book from local author Diane Arruda.

Arruda has taken her dream to the next step with the release of “The Ancient One,” the second book in her “The Dream River Adventure Series.”

Dreams are the focus of the series, which will consist of a total of five books. The story is meant to appeal to people of all ages but is placed in the genre of children’s books.

Arruda, a mother of four grown children and a grandmother of five, plans to have the whole series written by the end of April. But her inspiring dream has been floating in her mind for a few decades, and has been part of a journey, she said.

“The stories have manifested through a fantastic dream I had when I was 9 years old,” she said. “It was a dream about a beautiful, sparkling river located in a lush colorful forest. Small, beautiful but very unusual water creatures lived in it. I met others just like the first water angel and together they showed me new places and new things to do in the river.”

She added, “It was magical.”

Her dreams also were influenced by a childhood reading experience, when she read a children's book from the 1800s that featured “water babies,” magical children that lived underwater.

Her books feature “water angels,” which represent love, joy, adventure and understanding.

Arruda's dream river was finally put into words five and a half years ago when her childhood dream suddenly returned to her one day.

“I saw, quite vividly in my mind’s eye, the image of a water angel swimming among cattails. It was a beautiful sight. It was an incredible experience and it signaled to me that it was time to change my energy and finally write the story,” said Arruda.

She had recently suffered the loss of her career and it took months for her to recover. But now she believes that losing her job was a turning point in her life, and that her true purpose in life now is to write and paint what she imagines.

The main character of the stories is Golden Fish, who correlates to Arruda herself. Readers were first introduced to Golden Fish in Arruda’s first published book, “The Undiscovered River: Golden Fish and a True Dream,” that was published early last year, several months before the August release of the second book.

Arruda couldn’t control her urges to paint her story, and she started painting just as soon as she started writing. Being a professional artist and having a degree in art history greatly contributed to her ability to visually depict her magical dream river, she said.

Her acrylic paintings are very vivid and bright, just as she described her dream. Her desire to use her own illustrations for her writing made it difficult to get her books published, though. However, she would not trust the imagery to any other artist because she feels she is the only one who can truly depict it.

“I was the happiest I had been in a very long time,” Arruda said of writing the series. “The stories and the artwork started a new chain of life events that began to give me a clearer picture of the person I was becoming on the inside versus the one I was slowly leaving behind on the outside.”

The adventure begins when Golden Fish truly believes in a dream she had of a beautiful, undiscovered river. She lives in The Great Pool, which Arruda said represents the way the world thinks and acts in the present time.

Because she truly desires to learn more about life beyond the Great Pool, Golden Fish is given an invitation to journey through a secret passageway into the Undiscovered River. This event in the story has major significance to Arruda’s life.

“It represents the beginning of my own determined desire to reeducate myself by reading who, what, when, where and the why of past and current thinkers in psychic growth and understanding,” she said. “This personal education became my passageway to the new way of looking at things.”




Diane Arruda's children's books include Golden Fish's visit to the Great Storyteller. Image courtesy of Diane Arruda.



Golden Fish encounters many of the same feelings and similar experiences as Arruda has had in her own life, such as having a desire to know more and taking action to educate oneself.

“Growing up, getting married, divorced, educated and leading careers are experiences that are a part of that time,” she said. “I can now take my life’s journey through Golden Fish and her dream river adventures where happiness and fulfillment are the very important words.”

Golden Fish decides to leave the Great Pool and discover the world beyond, never to return again.

“The Undiscovered River,” the first book, leads Golden Fish to realize that there are five Living Codes once she makes it out of the Great Pool. Her discovery stems from a meeting with the Magnificent Whirlpool, who is the source of all that lives in the Undiscovered River and beyond.

After Golden Fish tells her friend about the second true dream, she discovers the First Living Code. Her friend helped her by telling her that the code is that “all living things are connected and share the power of source. Arruda describes “source” as energy.

“The Ancient One,” the second book, is based on Golden Fish’s journey to discover the Second Living Code.

Many overarching ideas can be interpreted religiously, but Arruda did not intentionally reflect any organized religious sensitivities.

“The stories reflect a personal desire to go beyond the accepted ways of thinking about one’s life and personal expectations and take a deeper look at the world around them,” she said.

The first two books can be purchased locally at Wild About Books, Watershed Books and Catfish Books, or online at for $12.95 each. They are each 50 pages in length including the beautiful artwork.

The third book, “Dream Keepers” will be available by the end of January this year. Because it is longer than the first two, it will be sold for $13.95.




Neb, a water angel, is shown in the Great Pool. Image courtesy of Diane Arruda.



“Dream Keepers,” is a turning point in Golden Fish’s journey. She must return to the Great Pool to find the Third Living Code. The last two books in the series will be about discovering the fourth and fifth living codes.

The search for the codes is a search for many of life’s basic questions like: “Why am I here?” Where should I be now, at this time in my life?” and “Who am I?”

“I've got a lot of work to do,” said Arruda.

But, she added, “It's the most fun I've ever had.”

Visit Arruda’s Web site, , and the publisher, Eloquent Books’ Web site, , for more information about The Dream River Adventure Series.

E-mail Tera deVroede at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .




The cover of Diane Arruda's first book,

BLUE LAKES – An early morning collision near Blue Lakes early Wednesday morning has resulted in a fatality.

Officer Steve Tanguay of the Clear Lake Office of the California Highway Patrol confirmed that a death had resulted from the crash, which was reported shortly after 2:45 a.m. Wednesday.

A vehicle was reported off the roadway, with two subjects reportedly coming out of it, according to the CHP's initial reports.

Names of those involved was not yet available shortly before 10 a.m.

Traffic was blocked in both directions and Caltrans put a highway closure in place, according to the CHP.

A blood draw was conducted on one individual who was taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital for treatment, the report stated.

Tow companies were called to tow vehicles for evidence, officials said.

Tanguay said the CHP will issue a full account of the crash shortly.

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NORTH COAST – In the wake of a large earthquake that occurred off the North Coast Saturday afternoon, numerous smaller quakes continued throughout Sunday.

Saturday's 6.5 quake, reported shortly before 4:30 p.m. 27 miles west of Ferndale in Humboldt County, has appeared to trigger a series of ongoing smaller aftershocks, which began immediately afterward, according to US Geological Survey records.

Those continued when, on Sunday at 3:48 a.m., a 3.9-magnitude quake was reported 23 miles west northwest of Ferndale at a depth of 5.1 miles in the ocean floor, the agency reported.

The US Geological Survey received 37 responses from 18 zip codes around Northern California from people who felt that quake, the power of which was reported at moderate around Eureka and stronger east of the city.

Smaller quakes continued on that west northwest line, moving closer to shore, over the next several hours.

A 2.6-magnitude quake followed at 4:05 a.m. Sunday, 21 miles west northwest of Ferndale, with the epicenter located 9.4 miles down, according to the US Geological Survey. At 8:49 a.m., a 2.7-magnitude quake was reported 18 miles west northwest of Ferndale. That quake was 7.8 miles deep.

Another set of smaller quakes occurred between 20 and 30 miles on a western line from Ferndale, varying between shallower depths of 2.2 miles and deeper, to more than eight miles, based on the geological reports.

Then, at 10:44 p.m., a 4.2-magnitude quake occurred 37 miles west of Ferndale, with a 6-mile-deep epicenter, the US Geological Survey reported. Despite its distance from shore, about half a dozen people from Humboldt County and as far away as Mountain View reported feeling the quake.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported late Sunday that the 4.2-magnitude smaller earthquake would not generate a tsunami. The previous day, it had reported that the 6.5-magnitude quake wasn't expected to generate one of the massive waves.

In other earthquake news, a 3.0-magnitude quake was reported at 7:36 a.m. Sunday at The Geysers, five miles west southwest of Cobb and seven miles west northwest of Anderson Springs.

The quake – which was centered 2.3 miles deep – was felt in Lakeport and Kelseyville, and as far away as Placerville, Chico and Redding, the US Geological Survey reported.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

HUMBOLDT COUNTY – A big quake off the coast of Humboldt County Saturday afternoon was felt by thousands of people around California, Oregon and Nevada.

The 6.5-magnitude quake occurred at 4:27 p.m., according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake's epicenter was 27 miles west of Ferndale and 33 miles west southwest of Eureka, the US Geological Survey reported. Its depth was recorded at 13.5 miles in the ocean floor.

Fifteen smaller earthquakes followed, eight of which were larger than 3.0 in magnitude, according to US Geological Survey records. They included a 4.5-magnitude earthquake with the same epicenter as the 6.5-magnitude quake.

Caltrans reported late Saturday evening that its crews has responded quickly to inspect roads and bridges in the area after the quake occurred.

Based on an initial assessment, the agency concluded that the highways “performed well” and will remain open. Inspections will continue in the coming days, Caltrans reported.

The US Geological Survey was continuing to receive shake reports from around the region late into the night. Shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday they had received 7,725 responses in 508 zip codes from people who felt the earthquake.

Responses came as far away as Salem, Ore. – nearly 500 miles from the quake – as well as Reno, Nev., and south another 500 miles to Hilmar.

Residents in Lake County – specifically the Nice and Clearlake areas – also reported feeling the quake.

The Associated Press reported that some injuries resulted in Humboldt County, where there were widespread power outages, and damage to utilities and buildings.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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