Wednesday, 19 June 2024

News

SACRAMENTO Evergreen Lakeport Healthcare skilled nursing facility in Lake County has received a "AA" citation, the most severe under state law, and a $100,000 fine, the highest fine under state law, from the state of California after an investigation by the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) concluded that poor care of a 44-year-old resident led to her death, State Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Horton announced today.


Records show that the resident required total assistance with daily living activities.


On June 2, 2006, three days after admission, the resident suffered a seizure and aspirated material into her lungs. When staff responded, suction equipment was unavailable in the resident’s room. When an emergency cart was found, it was not stocked with the necessary equipment to set up emergency suction to clear the resident’s airway. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was initiated, but was stopped before paramedics arrived. The death certificate indicated "aspiration and seizure disorder" as the cause of death.


CDHS determined that the facility failed to assess for and prevent aspiration, failed to ensure staff were adequately trained in emergency response procedures and CPR techniques and failed to ensure emergency airway equipment was stocked and available to nursing staff during a life-threatening situation.


All nursing facilities in California are required to be in compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations governing health care facilities. Facilities are required to comply with these standards to ensure at least a minimal level of quality of care.


California has the statutory authority to impose fines against nursing facilities it licenses as a tool in its arsenal of enforcement remedies for poor care. The "AA" citation process is part of CDHS’ ongoing enforcement efforts in improving the quality of care provided to residents of the state’s approximately 1,400 skilled nursing facilities.


State citations that require a civil monetary penalty be imposed are categorized as Class B, A or AA. The associated fines range from $100 to $1,000 for Class B, $2,000 to 20,000 for Class A and $25,000 to $100,000 for Class AA.


The citation class and amount of the fine depend upon the significance and severity of the substantiated violation, as prescribed and defined in California law. By providing nursing facilities it licenses with consequences for substantiated violations, CDHS strives to protect the health and safety of vulnerable individuals.


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NORTHSHORE – Fires along the Northshore kept firefighters busy over the weekend.


Jim Robbins, chief of Northshore Fire Protection District, reported Monday that his district responded to three fires on Saturday.


The first, according to witnesses, took place at about 4 p.m. Robbins said it was located outside of Glenhaven in the direction of Clearlake Oaks.


The cause? “A young man playing with a magnifying glass, trying to cook some bugs,” said Robbins.


Northshore Fire sent three fire engines, and Cal Fire assisted in fighting the acre-and-a-half-sized blaze.


Robbins said Cal Fire's juvenile fire setter program is going to talk to the youngster about being careful and not starting more fires.


Firefighters had barely gotten their units back in from the Glenhaven fire when they had to leave once again to fight a fire that had broken out along Highway 20.


The fire, located two miles east of Highway 53 past Old Long Valley Road, came across the scanner at 6:17 p.m. Saturday. Robbins reported the blaze was located in heavy timber, and estimated it burned between six and eight acres.


Northshore Fire sent five units and Lake County Fire Protection District sent two units, Robbins said. Cal Fire added an air attack, two air tankers, two hand crews and five engines, according to Cal Fire's incident command center.


That fire was contained by 7:02 p.m. Saturday, but Robbins said he thought Cal Fire still had some firefighters on the scene Monday for mop up. Cal Fire said that fire's cause is still under investigation.


At about 9 p.m. Saturday, Northshore Fire responded with three units to a small fire off Carson behind the Aurora RV Park and Marina in Nice. The fire was quickly contained but Robbins didn't have a final report on the cause.


With it already shaping up to be a busy fire season, Robbins and his staff are in the midst of their weed abatement program. He said they're consolidating the property owner databases from the several departments that have since combined under the Northshore district. They recently sent out about 900 letters asking property owners to keep weeds and grass cut short.


Weeds and grass cut now aren't likely to come back very much during the rest of the summer due to dry conditions, Robbins advised.


For those who don't comply, the district will have the lots mowed and then send out a bill, he said. If the property owners don't pay, a lien may be attached to their property.


Robbins said he was grateful to those property owners who make sure their lots aren't fire hazards. “We really don't want to be in the weed abatement business,” he said.


The Northshore Fire Protection District's main office can be reached at 274-3100.


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


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CLEARLAKE – A head-on collision early Friday afternoon claimed the life of a Clearlake Oaks man and sent two other Oaks residents to the hospital with major injuries.


The California Highway Patrol's Clear Lake office reported that the accident took place along Highway 53 approximately one-half mile south of Highway 20 at 12:52 p.m.


Ronald Neville, 53, of Clearlake Oaks was driving his 1990 Mazda pickup southbound on Highway 53, the CHP reported. Coming from the opposite direction was 63-year-old Carla Sawyer of Clearlake Oaks in a 1993 Dodge minivan. Both drivers were traveling at between 50 and 55 miles per hour.


For an unknown reason, Neville's pickup drifted to the left and into the opposing lane, which was directly in Sawyer's path, the CHP reported.


Sawyer was unable to avoid the collision, and the two vehicles hit head-on in the Highway 53's northbound lane, according to the CHP report.


The CHP incident logs reported that there was “utter chaos” at the scene, with both cars blocking the roadway and emergency personnel on scene to help the three accident victims.


At just after 2 p.m., CHP confirmed that Neville had died of his injuries.


Sawyer and her passenger, 56-year-old Craig Sawyer of Clearlake Oaks, both sustained major injuries. Carla Sawyer suffered a fractured pelvis and a fractured upper arm. Craig Sawyer had a fractured neck, fractured leg, a broken sternum and broken ribs.


One of the injured was flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, but CHP did not specify which.


Highway 53 was completely shut down for about 15 minutes before one lane was reopened, CHP reported. Both lanes once again were clear by 2:16 p.m.


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


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LAKE COUNTY A recently released report shows that tobacco sales to area youth are showing a promising reduction.


The Lake County Tobacco Program, a program of Lake Family Resource Center (Lake FRC), released the results of the May 2007 Youth Purchase Survey on Wednesday.


The May report shows that sales have dropped to an all-time low of 8.4 percent, with five stores countywide selling tobacco products to teens under the age of 18.


In May 2005 the rate of sales of tobacco product sales to minors was 43 percent more than five times the most recent sales figures.


Local communities with 100-percent compliance – meaning no sales to youth – in the May 2007 survey included Clearlake Oaks, Cobb, Kelseyville, Lower Lake, Lucerne, Middletown and Nice.


Stores in three communities sold tobacco products to youth: Lakeport, Clearlake and Upper Lake. The highest concentration of sales was in Upper Lake, where 50 percent of retailers sold tobacco products to minors. In Clearlake, 15 percent of stores sold to minors, and in Lakeport the total was 8 percent of stores selling to minors.


With a member of the Adult Tobacco Coalition, youth coalition members enter selected stores. While in the store, the teens survey tobacco product signage and product placement to assure that the store is in compliance with current California law.


One youth approaches the check stand to attempt a purchase while the other observes. If a sale is made, the two teens leave the store and give the cigarettes to the adult advisor. An immediate evaluation is done of the sale/non-sale that includes whether ID was requested, whether a sale was made, and the age and gender of the sales clerk.


Stores are then notified of the results, including the time and date of the sale, with information regarding the clerk training provided through Lake FRC.


Tobacco program coordinator Michael Rupe said the program works hard to develop educational materials for tobacco retailers, which include free training and fact sheets for owners and employees that teach current laws, required signage, identification verification and other resources.


“The drop in sales is dramatic and shows that we cannot slow down in our education efforts to stop cigarette and other tobacco sales to Lake County youth,” Rupe said. “Not only is it illegal to make the sales, those stores still selling tobacco to youth are putting the health of our community at risk.”


Lake FRC Executive Director Gloria Flaherty said store owners and managers have been receptive to the training, scheduling trainings whenever new staff are hired and to reinforce the information for current employees.


“The mission of Lake FRC is 'Strengthening Families,'” said Flaherty. “Educating retailers and families about the risks of tobacco on teens and children is one way we can accomplish that goal.”


The Tobacco Control Program is funded through a state grant to the County of Lake Health Department, who subcontracts operation of the program to Lake FRC.


For more information about the Lake Family Resource Center Tobacco Control Program, or to schedule a presentation, call Michael Rupe, 262-1611.


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Officer Mark Lenahan's enforcement vehicle after the Sunday's crash. Photo courtesy of Officer Josh Dye.

 

CLEARLAKE – A California Highway Patrol officer heading home after helping conduct traffic control at the weekend triathlon event was hit by a Clearlake Oaks woman Sunday.


CHP Officer Josh Dye on Monday that the collision took place at 7:12 p.m. on Highway 53 north of Ogulin Canyon Road.


Officer Michael Lenahan of the Willows CHP office was traveling back home after serving on the Triathlon One O One traffic detail on Sunday, said Dye. The CHP had a heavy presence at that event, Dye added.


Lenahan was driving a 2003 Chevrolet pickup, a CHP Commercial Enforcement Vehicle, northbound on Highway 53. Driving southbound was Corrina Cuppoletti, 27, of Clearlake Oaks in a 2000 Dodge Neon.


Cuppoletti swerved across the highway's double yellow lines to avoid a collision with a car slowing to the front of her car, said Dye. Lenahan swerved to the right but was unable to avoid being hit by Cuppoletti's vehicle.


Dye said Lenahan was transported to Redbud Hospital for back and neck pain while Cuppoletti, who complained of pain to her neck, decided to seek her own medical help.


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


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LAKEPORT – A local California Highway Patrol officer pleaded not guilty on Friday to allegations of fraud and elder abuse.


The Lake County District Attorney's Office filed the felony charges on Wednesday against 48-year-old Kelseyville resident Timothy Poindexter, a sergeant with the Clear Lake CHP office.


District Attorney Jon Hopkins said the charges arose out of an investigation his office conducted on a real estate transaction in which Poindexter was purchasing property from an elderly Finley couple.


Poindexter pleaded not guilty during his Friday morning appearance before visiting Superior Court Judge Galen Hathaway, Hopkins reported.


Hathaway released Poindexter on his own recognizance, Hopkins said, and ordered that Poindexter be booked the same day at the Lake County Jail.


Fran Clader, a spokesperson with the CHP's Sacramento headquarters, said Poindexter has served with the CHP for 26 years. He has worked at CHP offices around the state, including Napa, Alturas and Gilroy. He joined the Clear Lake CHP office in August 2001.


Hopkins told Lake County News on Thursday that after the charges were filed the CHP put Poindexter on administrative leave, pending completion of an internal affairs investigation.


Hopkins said Deputy District Attorney Joyce Campbell is prosecuting the case. Representing Poindexter is Judy Conard, an experienced defense attorney with Alvord & Conard law firm in Lakeport.


A call to Conard's office seeking comment on the case was not returned.


Poindexter is set to return to court for a preliminary hearing on July 13, Hopkins 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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Soda Bay, an Appaloosa/Thoroughbred gelding, at Animal Care & Control before he went to his new foster home. Photo courtesy of Animal Care & Control.

 

LAKEPORT – In the past few years, Lake County Animal Care & Control has had several high-profile cases where horses were malnourished and neglected so severely that it rose to the level of abuse.

 

Animal Care & Control Director Denise Johnson recently found her department in possession of another such horse, but while a sad story, Johnson said it looks like a happy ending could be on the horizon.

 

The story begins with a severely malnourished 20-year-old Appaloosa/Thoroughbred gelding whose owner surrendered him to Animal Care & Control May 24 in the hopes that they could find him a new home.

 

Animal Care & Control staffers dubbed the horse “Soda Bay.”

 

Johnson said they immediately requested a local veterinarian come out and give Soda Bay a checkup, which they hoped would determine if he had a medical reason for being as thin as he was, or if Soda Bay was the victim of animal neglect that the department would need to investigate.

 

Dr. Susan Cannon of Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic examined and evaluated Soda Bay and the evaluation findings were not good, said Johnson.

 

“Although the blood work showed no internal problems, he was clearly suffering from malnutrition,” Johnson added.

 

Next came the hard part: What to do for the horse.

 

The options, said Johnson, were starkly simple: try to save him, which though costly could be assisted through offered donations to cover his feed, which would help defer the “enormous” cost of rehabilitation; or put him down.

 

Johnson said they called Cannon and the District Attorney's Office to make the best decision for Soda Bay.

 

Next came serendipity.

 

Kelseyville resident Valarie Sullivan owns Pikes Peak Appaloosas. She happened to be delivering hay to Animal Care & Control on May 31 when she spotted him, with his ribs painfully visible under his bay hide, his hip bones jutting out at severe angles.

 

As any true horse lover would do, Sullivan said she stopped and visited with the horse, and then she asked about him.

 

She said she was told he was slated to be euthanized.

 

And then she went home and a had a long, sleepless night. Again, as any horse lover would do.

 

“I was awake all night,” she said. “I thought long and hard about it.”

 

The next morning Sullivan called Johnson, asking if she could foster Soda Bay.

 

“I'm just a softy,” said Sullivan, who has loved horses her entire life.

 

Sullivan offered to pay for his care, said Johnson, including following special feeding instructions which includes a diet of Equine Senior grain, alfalfa meal with molasses, and grass and alfalfa hay. She also promised to follow Cannon's veterinary recommendations to rehabilitate Soda Bay.

 

Five days later, on June 4, Sullivan took Soda Bay to his new home in Kelseyville.

 

Sullivan said she gave herself 60 days to see whether or not Soda Bay could be saved. She's seen neglected horses before, she said, but added, “This is the worst case I've ever seen.”

 

For the first few days, she said Soda Bay seemed very depressed. In the meantime, the farrier came out to trim his hooves and treat the abscesses in his front feet.

 

In recent days, Soda Bay has begun to seem more at home and is showing improvement, said Sullivan.

 

He's walking better after his hoof trim, he has new horse friends and the neighborhood kids are coming over to visit. After he's had a chance to put on some more weight, Sullivan said he can start going out for walks.

 

She said the bay gelding is “super mellow,” enjoys attention and is gentle with the children.

 

“He likes to be touched, groomed and petted,” she said.

 

And Soda Bay now has his own Myspace page, designed by Sullivan's sister-in-law, Kenna Sullivan. You can see him online at www.myspace.com/SodaBay and see his wish list, which includes everything from volunteer help to stable supplies, food and horse shampoo.

 

Sullivan said she has about half a dozen horses now, counting Soda Bay. Some of them have been given to her by people who no longer want them.

 

Because there's such a need for equine rescue, she's now working on forming a nonprofit to rescue horses, rehabilitate them and find loving families who will give them good homes. Sullivan also wants her organization to provide opportunities for horse ownership for less-privileged children.

 

Sullivan said it will take a long time to get Soda Bay back to good health. “I expect it to take every bit of a year to get him in some sort of reasonable shape.”

 

Once he's rehabilitated, Sullivan said she hopes to find him a family of his own.

 

What does her husband think about her bringing home another horse?

 

“I think my husband has given up,” she laughed. “There's an imaginary line between the house and the barn, and he never crosses it.”

 

Johnson said they don't know whether Soda Bay's former owner neglected him, and they're currently investigating the horse's case. She said that she'll review the case with the District Attorney's Office once the investigation is complete, which she estimated could take up to 45 days.

 

For those interested in making a donation to help with Soda Bay's rehabilitation costs, Dave's Hay Barn in Upper Lake has set up an account; call 275-9246 for more information.

 

Johnson said Animal Care & Control will be monitoring Soda Bay's rehabilitation on a weekly basis and updates of his progress will be posted on the Animal Care and Control Web site, www.co.lake.ca.us.

 

Updates on Soda Bay's condition and future also will be posted on www.lakeconews.com.

 

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

 

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Dave Thompson led the field and won $10,000. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

LAKEPORT – Elite level athletes from around the world came to swim, bike and run their way through 101 miles of grueling competition on Sunday during Triathlon One O One's inaugural Lake County event.


More than 150 athletes took part in Sunday's competition, which was the culmination of months of preparation. Organizers and athletes began final preparations on Friday, with athlete check-ins, practice swims and meetings.


Twenty-nine-year-old Leandra Cave of Hilperton, England, a professional triathlete, won in the women's competition in a time of 6:39:05, which earned her a $10,000 prize, and also put her in seventh place overall.


David Thompson of St. Paul, Minn, another 29-year-old pro triathlete, led the entire field and won the men's division, taking $10,000 for his performance, timed at 6:03:07.


The race began at 7 a.m. Sunday with a 1.86-mile swim that included two laps around a rectangular course which began and ended at Third Street.


Next, competitors completed an 80.6-mile bike ride, which consisted of three laps from downtown Lakeport, along Lakeshore Boulevard and into Scotts Valley, and back to Library Park.


The triathlon's last leg was an 18.6-mile run that lapped twice around a course that extended from downtown Lakeport, along Hartley Road to East Hill Road and back.


Several hundred spectators gathered for the finish, to see Thompson, Cave and the rest of the field come across the finish line.


The race offered a $50,000 purse, with cash prizes in both the mens and womens divisions down to seventh place.


Top finishers after Thompson in the men's division were: second place, Jordon Rapp, Scarborough, NY, 6:07:36, $6,000 prize; third place, Brian Lavelle, Los Gatos, 6:09:15, $4,000; fourth place, Victor Plata, Sacramento, 6:17:15, $2,000; fifth place, Ted Aas, Molndal, Sweden; 6:18:48, $1,500; sixth place, Chris Hauth, Mill Valley, 6:24:52, $1,000; seventh place, Jeffrey Piland, San Carlos, 6:42:42, $500.


In the women's division, top finishers following Cave were: second place, Kim Loeffler, Colchester, VT, 6:44:06, $6,000; third place, Alexis Waddel, Monterey, 6:51:31, $4,000; fourth place, Karen Holloway, Richmond, VA, 7:00:38, $2,000; fifth place, Kelly Liljeblad, Burlington, VT, 7:00:52, $1,500; sixth place, Erin Ford, The Dalles, OR, 7:02:34, $1,000; seventh place, Gabriela Loskotova, Prague, Czech Republic, 7:09:08, $500.


Most of the competitors came from California and the U.S., with international competitors coming from Canada, Great Britain, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Sweden.


Several local competitors also put in strong efforts. Paul Farley of Lakeport finished 68th overall, with a time of 9:21:41; Michael Murray of Lakeport finished 81st overall in 9:53:24; and Mike Clifton of Lakeport ranked 119th, but no time was recorded for finishers after 99th place.


Shannon Kurek, executive director of Triathlon One O One, told Lake County News that this is the inaugural year of the 101-mile race. It's a middle-distance competition, not the shortest on the circuit but not as long as the 140-mile Ironman Triathlon, the competition that he said helped bring triathlon into the public consciousness.


The One O One race, Kurek said, is the “longest, most raceable distrance.”


Lake County came to the attention of competition organizers after they began looking for more Northern California venues for triathlon events, Kurek explained.


An athlete then told them about Lake County, suggesting they check it out. After he visited, Kurek was sold. “This is postcard perfect,” he said, adding that the county's scenery offered an amazing race venue.


Event director Doug Grout said preparations for the event began in December.


“We typically work 11 months organizing Tri 101 events,” he said. But when they came across Lakeport, toured the area and realized they'd found someplace special, they decided to make a push to put the event on this summer.


Denise Combs helped lead preparations locally, which included numerous tasks such as recruiting volunteers, organizing volunteer meetings, sending out publicity and more.


"We are so very pleased with the results, and we look forward to even greater participation next year, on both sides the public as well as the athletes,” said Grout. “We hope to announce within a month or so a date for next year."


Kurek said he hopes to see the event grow from the four Triathlon One O One events planned this year to 20 events worldwide within three years. The legion of triathletes is growing, he said, and it includes professional athletes as well as those who only compete in one event a year. He believes the demand will help the competition grow.

 

Grout commended the gracious participation of the local sponsors, city and county officials. However, he emphasized the contributions of the dozens of volunteers who helped make the event possible – from working on the courses, to directing traffic, organizing personnel, standing by with medical services and running special errands.


For more information about the Triathlon One O One events, visit www.trioneoone.com.

 

For a full gallery and slideshow of the event, visit our Gallery page, http://lakeconews.com/component/option,com_wrapper/Itemid,37/.

 

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

 

Harold LaBonte contributed to this report.

 

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Leandra Cave traveled from Great Britain for the triathlon event, where she won the women's division and a $10,000 purse. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
 

 

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LAKE COUNTY – More than a year after a boating accident resulted in the death of a Willows woman, charges are being brought against a Carmichael man who was operating the sailboat on which she was a passenger.


District Attorney Jon Hopkins announced Thursday that he was charging Bismarck Dinius, 39, with felony vehicular manslaughter involving a vessel and misdemeanor boating under the influence of alcohol.


Dinius is scheduled for arraignment in Department 2 in Lakeport at 9 a.m. Friday.


Hopkins said Dinius was at the tiller of a a 27-foot sailboat owned by Willows resident Mark Weber after 9 p.m. on April 29, 2006.


While sailing near Konocti Bay, the sailboat – which included three other passengers besides Dinius and Weber – was hit by a 24-foot Baja motorboat driven by Clearlake Park resident Russell Perdock, who is a chief deputy at the Lake County Sheriff's Office.


In the collision, one of the sailboat's passengers, Willows resident Lynn Thornton, was seriously injured. Days later, she died at U.C. Davis Medical Center, according to the original statement by Sheriff Rod Mitchell.


Hopkins reported that after the accident Mitchell called on the District Attorney's Office to participate in the investigation in order to avoid “any appearance of impropriety” because of Perdock's involvement.


A sergeant and a deputy from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office Marine Services who are experienced in investigating boating accidents also took part in the investigation, said Hopkins.


Before moving forward with prosecuting the case, Hopkins said he referred the case to the California Attorney General’s office. In doing so, Hopkins again cited the desire to avoid the appearance of impropriety.


He said he asked the Attorney General for an independent opinion on who should be charged in the case and if his office should be recused because of its close working relationship with the Lake County Sheriff's Office.


After a complete review of the case, Hopkins said the Attorney General’s Office found no reason for the District Attorney to step down.


In charging Dinius, Hopkins alleged that he was operating without running lights and was under the influence of alcohol. An original report of Dinius' blood alcohol level reported it was 0.12, which is above the legal limit of 0.08.


Hopkins said no charges were filed against Perdock or Weber. Hopkins added that Weber was allegedly under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident.


Deputy District Attorney David McKillop, whose position is funded by the new Office of Traffic Safety grant for prosecuting driving under the influence cases, is prosecuting the case, said Hopkins. Tom Clements, who recently retired from his position as a lieutenant with the Clearlake Police Department, is assisting McKillop as a part-time investigator, which the grant also funding Clements' position.


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


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NICE – A solo-vehicle accident late Tuesday afternoon sent one woman to the hospital.


The accident, which took place on Highway 20 at Carson in Nice, was reported to the California Highway Patrol at 4:50 p.m.


A white Toyota Corolla went off the roadway and into a ditch, striking a light pole and sustaining major front-end damage, according to the CHP incident log.


The female driver reportedly suffered moderate injuries and was flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for treatment.


Responding to the accident were CHP, Lake County Sheriff and Northshore Fire Protection District.


No further information about the victim or her injuries was available.


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


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CLEARLAKE – A collision Sunday evening between a vehicle and a California Highway Patrol pickup truck resulted in minor injuries.


The collision was reported at 7:14 p.m. along Highway 53, according to the CHP incident logs.


Initial log reports did not detail how the accident happened, but that the CHP vehicle was not at fault.


The drivers appeared OK, however, there were reportedly medical transports to Redbud Hospital, but who was taken and the extent of their injuries was not stated.


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


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A Cal Fire helicopter drops water the wildland fire near San Joaquin Avenue on Thursday. Photo by Kristin Dugan.

 

CLEARLAKE – Fire crews were able to quickly contain a small wildland fire near San Joaquin Avenue in Clearlake Thursday afternoon.


The fire was reported at 1:27 p.m., said Justin Benguerel of Cal Fire's Emergency Command Center.


Captain Brice Trask of the Lake County Fire Protection District said the blaze was about five acres in size and originated on San Joaquin Avenue, burning up to the west end of Carter Lane.


Trask said his department sent 14 personnel to the blaze – including the chief, and assistant and battalion chiefs – along with one water tender and three engines.


Cal Fire dispatched two air tankers, one air attack, one helicopter, two fire crews consisting of 36 firefighters, one dozer and five fire engines with three firefighters each, Benguerel reported.


The fire didn't immediately threaten any homes, said Trask, but if it had burned about 600 yards farther it would have reached a number of residences.


Trask said the fire was contained quickly, by about 2 p.m., but crews had just returned to quarters at 6 p.m.


“We did mop up for quite awhile,” he said, which included knocking out fire hot spots.


The fire's cause is under investigation, Trask said.


Fire season is well under way, said Trask. Because of that, he reminded homeowners that it's important to keep 100 feet of defensible space – free from weeds, brush and other flammable materials – around their homes.


But be careful about when you're doing your mowing, Trask said.


One of the major causes of fires during hot and dry weather is using lawnmower or flail mowers, he said. When the blade hits a rock, it can cause a spark, which can then result in a blaze, Trask said.


That was the case in a small fire at Anderson Marsh State Park on Thursday afternoon, he said. While mowing, a maintenance worker set off a small blaze that, luckily, was quickly contained.


Trask advised not mowing after noon during the hot weather.


In other fire-related news, Trask said that insurance and workman's compensation investigators are looking at the Brown's RV blaze.


That fire was set off June 1, reportedly from a propane tank explosion. One person was injured but Trask said he couldn't report on the victim because of legal requirements.


“That's going to be under investigation for quite a while,” 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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