Friday, 03 February 2023

News

LAKE COUNTY – Water corporations Golden State Water Co. and California Water Service, which both serve areas of Lake County, seek rate increases to improve their ability to attract capital investment. The companies applied on May 1 with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Increases would cover the period from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2011.


The CPUC held a prehearing conference on the increases Monday, June 23, in San Francisco. The rate increases were not opposed by the Lucerne Community Water Organization (LCWO), which formed in 2005 to intervene in a rate increase proposal that year.


LCWO President Craig Bach said he has communicated with the CPUC Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA) and the administrative law judge on the case, Douglas M. Long, but the organization made no attempt to intervene in the case.


Third District supervisor Denise Rushing said LCWO and the county have discussed the case, but “we haven't been asked to formally intervene at this point"


Bach said neither he nor the few other people who regularly attend LCWO meetings have had the time to attend San Francisco hearings or announce a local meeting on the current proposal.


The group's next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 10, at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center, 10th Avenue and Country Club Drive.


In Lucerne, where it has approximately 1,900 customers, Cal Water asks for a $.62 hike per 100 cubic feet. The company says the proposal would increase the average monthly bill for 700 cubic feet of water per month from the current $67.04 to $71.35 in mid-2009.


The company recently announced a scheduled $17.34 monthly surcharge will start when the company's new plant on Highway 20 goes online soon. Company representatives were unable to say exactly how soon, although both July 1 and September 1 have been mentioned as goals. The surcharge will repay an $8 million zero-interest state loan for the plant.


Golden State serves approximately 2,164 customers in the city of Clearlake, covering the lakefront area north to Park Lane, and south into Borax Lake, Country Club and South Olympic, according to Paul Schubert, the Clearlake system manager. Their customers would see a monthly increase of 16 cents per 100 cubic feet.


Golden State's current charge per 100 cubic feet is $3.782, with a service charge of $42.15 for the typical residential 5/8 x 3/4-inch meter. A four cent surcharge per 100 cubic feet covers discounts for participants in the California Alternative Rates for Water (CARW).


The current Cost of Capital (COC) proposals are intended to make the companies' stocks more attractive to investors, according to an announcement from Cal Water, which said the increase will assist the company in “maintaining an investment grade rating.” The applications have been consolidated by the CPUC for procedural reasons, Schubert said.


Golden State Water's parent company, American States Water Co. (NYSE:AWR), reported a drop in 2008 first-quarter earnings of nine cents per share from the same period in 2007.


California Water Service Group (NYSE:CWT) announced 2008 first-quarter net income of $0.2 million and diluted earnings per common share of $0.01, a drop from net income of $1.6 million and diluted earnings per common share of $0.07 for the first quarter of 2007.


The company's April 30 press release noted “a decline in investment income.” Despite that, on January 23, 2008, Cal Water announced a dividend of $0.29250, the highest since 1992, the earliest date on its Web site.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – A former juvenile court attorney was in court Thursday to plead not guilty to felony charges of possessing child pornography.


Robert Wayne Wiley, 74, of Lakeport was arrested last Sept. 20 on a single felony charge of possessing child pornography, as Lake County News has reported.


Following a lengthy investigation, Wiley is charged with a total of four felony counts of possessing child pornography, according to Deputy District Attorney Ed Borg.


Calls to Wiley's attorney, J. David Markham, were not returned Thursday.


Borg said Wiley was arraigned Thursday morning and pleaded not guilty to the charges, which – if he's convicted of all of them and sentenced consecutively – could carry a maximum of five years in prison.


Retired Fresno County Superior Court Judge Harry N. Papadakis has been assigned to the case, said Borg, because all of the county's judges have recused themselves from hearing the matter.


“They've determined they don't want to hear the case for whatever reason,” he said.


In making his plea, Wiley also reserved the right to demurrer, which in this case could mean he might challenge the four separate charges and argue they be combined into one. Borg said he had no concern with the demurrer issue, and didn't argue against it Thursday.


Borg declined to comment on the specifics of the allegations against Wiley. He also didn't want to discuss the investigation and its length, although he said there were “good reasons” for the several months it took to file charges.


He said, generally speaking, when an attorney is under investigation, there is the possibility that a search warrant might seize items considered “work product.” Such materials are used to prepare a client's case and have a special protection under the law.


Because the release of work product could compromise attorney-client confidentiality, in such cases a special master is appointed, said Borg. The special master is another attorney who examines the materials before they are submitted to law enforcement in order to determine if it's appropriate to include them in the investigation.


“I'm not confirming or denying that's what happened here,” said Borg.


A search warrant was served on Wiley's home and his Third Street office last September. A computer belonging to Wiley was seized and underwent forensic examination, officials said at the time.


Wiley had been a longtime fixture in county courts, specializing in juvenile cases.


On Sept. 21, 2007, the day after his arrest, Wiley and Stephen Carter, who administers Lake Legal Defense, mutually agreed to terminate Wiley's contract for defending juveniles in criminal cases.


That same day, Wiley's contract with Lake County Superior Court to represent children in juvenile dependency cases – including those related to Child Protective Services – was terminated, according to a statement issued by Court Executive Officer Mary E. Smith.


Wiley, who was admitted to the State Bar of California is August 1975, retains active State Bar membership, and has no public record of administrative or disciplinary actions.


Borg said Wiley is scheduled to return to court Aug. 28, when his preliminary hearing will take place.


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


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EUREKA – Due to cool nighttime temperatures, Caltrans has temporarily suspended paving operations on a highway preventive maintenance project located on Route 29 from Lower Lake to Kelseyville in Lake County.


Caltrans reported the nighttime temperature has been dropping below 60 degrees, which is the minimum required for a chip seal coating to be applied to the current asphalt.


In order to minimize impacts to traffic, most of the paving is being performed at night.


Caltrans anticipates that by July 7 the nighttime temperature will be warm enough for paving to resume, and be completed by the end of July.

 

In addition to paving, this project will place weed mat around guardrails to reduce future maintenance costs, and restripe the roadway. The project is anticipated to be completed by the end of August.

 

For the most current information on all California State Highways, please call 1-800-427-7623 or visit www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo.


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LAKE COUNTY – The Associated Press reports that some water utilities experts question why private companies would be interested in United States water utilities. Much of the country is in drought condition and the Environmental Protection Agency estimates the nation will need to spend $277 billion or more over the next two decades to repair and improve drinking water systems.


“Shares of American Water Works have gained 9 percent since its initial offering April 23 ... In the same timeframe, shares of Aqua America Inc. shed 4 percent and shares of California Water Service Group slipped 7 percent,” the June 16 AP story said.


But the cities of Providence, RI, and Trenton, NJ are considering selling all or part of their systems to water corporations.

http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/provider/providerarticle.aspx?feed=AP&date=20080616&id=8782551


In other countries, Inter Press Service reported June 23 that “Water is flowing back into public hands.”

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=42922


The mayor of Paris said June 2 that the city will discontinue its 100-year-long contracts with the world's two biggest water service companies, Suez and Veolia, as of Dec. 31, 2009.


"We want to offer a better service, at a better price," Mayor Bertrand Delanoë said. "We also promise that prices would be stable."


The story adds “The list of ‘re-municipalisation’ of water services is long, and includes countries as diverse as Mali in West Africa, Uruguay where water has been brought back into the hands of the state at a national level, Buenos Aires and Santa Fe in Argentina, Cochabamba in Bolivia and Hamilton in Canada, besides other cities in France.”


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


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NORTH COAST – As fires caused by lightning storms nearly two weeks ago continue to burn around the North Coast, on Thursday they claimed their first human casualty.


Cal Fire and Mendocino County officials reported that Bob Roland, a 63-year-old volunteer firefighter recruit from the Anderson Valley Volunteer Fire Department, died early Thursday morning at Ukiah Valley Medical Center.


He'd been taken there after suffering respiratory distress on Wednesday afternoon while working on the Oso Fire, nine miles northwest of Boonville, officials reported.


The Oso is one of 40 active fires out of a total of 123 sparked by lightning in Mendocino County two weekends ago. So far, 38,500 acres have burned, with the complex 40-percent contained, according to officials.


Lakeport Fire Chief Ken Wells reported this week that a Lake County strike team of five engines was sent to work on the Orr Fire in the Mendocino Lightning Complex, which Cal Fire reported has approximately 1,687 personnel, 140 engines 17, helicopters, 60 water tenders and 50 bulldozers assigned to it.


In addition to Roland's death, 15 other firefighters have been injured working on the fires, according to Cal Fire.


The estimated cost of Cal Fire's firefighting effort in Mendocino County to date is $14,550,000.


Work also continues on fires caused by lightning on June 21 in the Mendocino National Forest, where as of Thursday 5,090 acres had burned in the Soda Complex in Lake and Mendocino counties, and 6,042 acres in the Yolla Bolly Complex in Mendocino, Trinity and Tehama counties, according to forest spokesperson Phebe Brown.


The four-fire Soda Complex is reported 74-percent contained, while Brown said the 23 fires within the Yolla Bolly Complex are only 5-percent contained in total.


Smokejumpers are constructing lines around some of the larger fires in the Yolla Bolly Complex, which has a total of 96 personnel assigned to it, with another 438 personnel on the Soda Complex, according to Brown.


Southwest winds continue to carry the smoke from the fires away from Lake County's air basin, according to county Air Pollution Control Officer Bob Reynolds. Improve air quality is expected through Friday.


For more information visit the Forest Service Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino/currentconditions.


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


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GLENHAVEN – A head-on crash on Highway 20 Tuesday afternoon left two people injured – one seriously – and closed down the highway while emergency personnel rescued the victims. One of the drivers also was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence alcohol.


Injured in the collision were Dana Traw, 45, of Santa Rosa, who was later arrested for suspected DUI, and 60-year-old Donald Seeley of Ukiah, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.


At about 2:15 p.m. Tuesday Traw was driving a 2001 Saturn eastbound on Highway 20 west of Gladys Street near Glenhaven when she passed over the double yellow lines and hit Seeley head-on in his 2000 Ford pickup, Garcia said.


Traw, who wasn't wearing her seatbelt, sustained major injuries, said Garcia, and was flown by REACH air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.


She was arrested for suspicion of DUI but released to the care of the hospital due to her injuries, Garcia said.


Seeley sustained minor injuries, said Garcia, and was not transported by an ambulance.


Garcia said the CHP had received calls of Traw’s erratic driving but was unable to stop her prior to the collision. He said the public is encouraged to call 911 to report suspected drunk drivers.


Officer Erica Coddington is investigating the incident, Garcia 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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NICE – Northshore firefighters and Lake County Sheriff's deputies on Friday night were looking for the subjects responsible for setting off fireworks in a boat on the lake, resulting in a fire and the boat's subsequent destruction.


Fire officials told Lake County News they were dispatched shortly before 10 p.m. to a report of a boat on fire a short distance offshore from Nice's Keeling Park.


Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Ken Petz said witnesses reported several subjects on the boat were setting off large fireworks – similar to those one would see in a professional show – and the boat caught fire.


The subjects jumped off the boat, which was anchored, and were reportedly picked up by another smaller boat, according to accounts from fire personnel at the scene.


The boat went up in flames quickly, said Petz, and burned down to its water line.


Three Lake County Sheriff's deputies, and two Northshore Fire engines and several other small fire trucks were on scene, with officials speaking with witnesses along the shoreline and at a home in the 3200 block of Lakeshore Boulevard. Many people reported seeing the incident, said Petz.


“Nobody wants to fess up to who owned the boat,” he added.


Petz said the Sheriff's Boat Patrol was trying to get the burned boat to shore, and also was looking for the responsible subjects.


Northshore Fire also was keeping an eye out for them, while responding to numerous calls reporting illegal use of fireworks in connection with the July 4 holiday, Petz said.


This year, fireworks were illegal for sale and use in all of Lake County, with the city of Lakeport – which has continued to allow safe and sane fireworks – issuing a temporary ban on use and sales due to concerns over extreme fire danger this summer.


Radio traffic Friday night and early Saturday morning included numerous reports of illegal fireworks around the county, along with loud parties, fights and reported burglaries.


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 – As California motorists head toward traditionally crowded highways on the Fourth of July holiday, the California Highway Patrol is urging drivers and passengers to protect themselves by avoiding alcohol, observing speed limits and wearing safety belts.


“The summer is in full swing, and everyone wants to squeeze in as much fun as possible,” said Lt. Mark Loveless, newly appointed commander of the CHP’s Clear Lake Area office. “Traffic volumes may be high, and unfortunately so is the potential for collisions.”


Last year 18 people died statewide in crashes during the 30-hour July Fourth holiday. CHP officers made 568 DUI arrests around the state during that same period.


This year every available CHP officer will be on the road during the “Maximum Enforcement Period” which begins at 6:01 p.m. on Thursday, July 3, and ends at midnight, Sunday, July 6.


Independence Day also marks the first holiday since California’s new “hands free” cell phone laws went into effect July 1.


“If they need to make or take a call, drivers must remember to keep their hands on the wheel, not on the phone,” Lt. Loveless said. “And drivers under 18 must refrain from using the cell phone when they’re driving a car.”


If you plan to be on the road this weekend, the CHP has several suggestions that can reduce the risk to you and your passengers:


● Make sure that only non-drinking drivers get behind the wheel. Alcohol and driving do not mix.

 

● Always buckle up on every trip, no matter how short. Safety belts and safety seats protect you and your passengers from other drivers who may not be as careful.

 

● Leave plenty of time for your trip. If you cannot leave early, don’t become impatient with traffic. Take a break from driving at least once an hour. Share the driving among all those with valid drivers licenses.

 

● Maintain safe speeds for conditions. Even if the posted speed limit is 65 or 70 miles per hour, when traffic is heavy or visibility is limited, a lower speed is safer.

 

● Remember the “rules of the road” and drive accordingly. Obeying stop signs and signals, keeping two seconds or more between you and the car ahead, and practicing common courtesy with other drivers helps keep everyone on the road safer.


During the holiday weekend, the CHP will be joining forces with statewide traffic safety agencies from Nevada, Arizona and Oregon in CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) enforcement focusing on speed, DUI and safety belt use.


“We want people to think safety whenever they get behind the wheel this summer. Common sense and courtesy will go a long way toward achieving that goal, but if a driver chooses to ignore our suggestions, we’ll be there to remind him or her,” Lt. Loveless said.


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LAKE COUNTY – The Hidden Valley Lake Association say it's rescheduling its July 4 fireworks display, but the show is going on for other displays around the county.


Connie Stuefloten, activities manager for the Hidden Valley Lake Association, said they're postponing the fireworks display after they were notified by the South Lake County Fire Protection District that they would not have firefighters available to be on standby during the annual display.


“They're all out on call,” she said.


Stuefloten said they're hoping to reschedule for the Labor Day weekend.


Matt Gilfillan, a fireworks show producer for the company Pyro Spectacular – which does Hidden Valley Lake's display – said it's too early to tell if the fire season and the draw on resources could cause other cancellations.


He added, however, “There's a number of shows that will be affected.”


He said the company is hoping the weather changes and the shows go on, because July 4 is also an opportunity to celebrate the contributions firefighters make.


Rest of county's shows ready to go this weekend


The show is going on for other displays around the county.


The 10th annual Maxine Sherman Memorial Fireworks in Clearlake Oaks, sponsored by the Clearlake Oaks/Glenhaven Business Association, is a go, said event chair Margaret Medeiros.


“We are all set for the fourth,” said Medeiros.


She has guided the event for the last nine years, following the 1999 death of Maxine Sherman, who took over the fundraising and planning for the fireworks in 1996.


Medeiros said she checked with Northshore Fire Protection District earlier this week and there were no concerns about moving forward with the $9,200 display.


The fireworks show will take place on Friday, July 4, beginning at dusk, Medeiros said. The fireworks will be shot off over the lake at Widgeon Point.


Likewise, the Lakeport display on July 4 is still on track, said Lakeport Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Melissa Fulton.


That show, like most others in the county, is shot off from the water, said Fulton.


Lakeport Fire Chief Ken Wells said he's not concerned about the chamber's annual show. “The public displays are not a problem,” he said.


Fulton said there is another concern about the display.


“Our big challenge, of course, is will anybody be able to see them?” she said, referring to the recent hazy conditions due to wildfires. “We certainly are hoping that they will be.”


Tammy McClain at the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce said plans are still going forward for the July 5 display, which also is set off over the lake.


Robinson Rancheria's fireworks show is scheduled for dusk on Thursday, which makes it the first display of the holiday weekend.


Konocti Harbor confirmed that its fireworks show will follow the July 5 Boston and Styx concert. Also on July 5, Konocti Vista Casino will hold a display at dusk at the casino's marina.


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


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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – Progress continues to be made in the effort to contain lightning fires around the North Coast, officials reported Friday.


Cal Fire reported Friday that the late June lightning storms set a total of 1,781 fires around the state, of which 335 are still active. Among those fires, 1,005 were within Cal Fire jurisdiction, and 57 are still burning. Total acres burned statewide is 529,971.


In Lake County, fires on the Mendocino National Forest have scorched more than 12,000 acres since June 21. That's when lightning set off fires across the forest, from the Soda Complex on the Upper Lake Ranger District in Lake and Mendocino counties to the Yolla Bolly Complex in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness. There are a total of 598 firefighters working both complexes.


Forest spokesperson Phebe Brown reported that the Soda Complex is 70-percent contained overall. It is located in remote areas to the north and northwest of Lake Pillsbury.


Its three active fires include the 2,190-acre Big Fire, which is 95-percent contained, followed in size by the Monkey Rock Fire, 1,060 acres at 10-percent contained, and the Mill Fire, 750 acres at 30-percent contained, Brown reported. A fourth fire, the Back, burned 1,600 acres and was contained earlier this week.


Brown said crews worked on Friday to complete and strengthen control lines on the Big, Monkey Rock

and Mill fires, with the latter two fires either partially or totally within designated wilderness.


In addition, mop up has begun on areas of the Mill Fire with continued efforts to stop its spread to the south, said Brown.


A report from forest spokesperson Mary Christensen late Friday, said the Yolla Bolly Complex has burned 6,840 acres and is 10-percent contained.


On Friday crews completed line construction for a planned burnout on the southeast flank of the Slides and Harvey Fires, both of which are now 100-percent contained, Christensen reported. Some of the fires are being allowed to burn into natural barriers, such as rock outcrops.


Christensen said on Saturday a burnout is planned using containment lines and natural barriers along the southeast flank of the Slides and Harvey Fires. The operation will be implemented with both hand and aerial ignition devices, and will restrict the fires from moving out of the wilderness and onto the surrounding private lands.

 

Total containment isn't expected until Oct. 30, Christensen reported. The cost to fight that complex thus far is $937,025. No cost estimate has been given for the Soda Complex.


Elsewhere on the North Coast, the Mendocino Lightning Complex has burned 39,700 acres and is 45-percent contained, Cal Fire reported. There are 1,630 personnel and 159 engines on scene, which includes a five-engine strike team from Lake County.


Of the original 123 fires ignited by lightning, 45 are still active in Mendocino County, according to Cal Fire.


That complex has so far cost $16.7 million to fight, and on Thursday claimed another high toll with the death of an Anderson Valley firefighter who suffered respiratory distress.


For more information about the fires on the Mendocino National Forest visit the Forest Service Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino/currentconditions.


Cal Fire's Web site at www.cdf.ca.gov has updates on the Mendocino Lightning Complex and other fires around the state.


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


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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – While fires on the Mendocino National Forest's Upper Lake Ranger District moved toward containment, a complex of fires in another part of the forest continued to grow, with containment not expected until this fall.


In all, more than 10,000 acres of Mendocino National Forest lands have burned due to lightning strikes that took place on June 21. Those strikes sparked at least 50 fires across all of the forest's three ranger districts.


The four-fire Soda Complex, which has burned 5,100 acres across Lake and Mendocino counties, is 72-percent contained, according to a Wednesday report from forest officials.


Progress is being made on the complex, officials reported, with 406 personnel continuing the firefighting effort in remote areas to the north and northwest of Lake Pillsbury.


A backfire was used on Wednesday on the eastern side of one of the fires, the Mill, and a dozer line was being built to stop its spread south, officials reported.


Meanwhile, the Yolla Bolly Complexmade up of 23 active lightning fires in Mendocino, Trinity and Tehama counties overtook the Soda Complex in size on Wednesday, having burned a total of 5,387 acres.


There are 96 personnel assigned to the Yolla Bolly Complex, which forest officials said is located 60 miles northwest of Willows.


The complex is 5-percent contained, with officials closing down the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness because of concerns for public safety.


Smokejumpers were dropped into the complex's Yellow and Jacket fires Wednesday to begin suppression efforts, officials reported. A helitack crew was working to build a line to confine the fires' east side.


Forest officials said the Yolla Bolly Complex isn't expected to be contained until Oct. 30.


For more information about the fires, visit www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino/currentconditions/.


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


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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – The battle to subdue a complex of large lightning-caused fires is continuing on the Mendocino National Forest's Upper Lake Ranger District.


Forest spokesperson Phebe Brown reported Tuesday that 403 personnel, 21 engines, four water tenders and two helicopters continued working on the Soda Complex in remote areas of the ranger district.


The Soda Complex includes the Big Fire, Back Fire, Mill Fire and Monkey Rock Fire.


On Sunday, the Back Fire was declared 100-percent contained at 1,600 acres, while on Monday crews continued to patrol and mop-up the fire perimeter, according to Brown.


The Big Fire, which is currently estimated to be 2,200 acres, is 75-percent contained, Brown said. Crews completed control lines along the southern flank of this fire on Monday, with mopup and patrol continuing on the fire's northern and eastern flanks.


Brown said both the Mill Fire, at 550 acres, and the Monkey Rock Fire, at 750 acres, are 0-percent contained.


She said crews continued work on control lines on the Mill Fire Monday, but the Monkey Rock Fire remained unstaffed, with both fires located in step terrain with limited accessibility.


The western flank of the Mill Fire is burning in the Sanhedrin Wilderness Area, and the Monkey Rock Fire is entirely within the Yuki Wilderness Area, Brown reported.


The Northern Rockies Type II Incident Management Team, in charge of managing the fires, plans to hold control lines and continue mopup on the Big and Mill Fire lines, and monitor the Monkey Rock Fire, said Brown. They'll also have crews available for initial attack should new lighting fires result from predicted storms in the area.


Due to the remoteness of the fires and limited road access, Spike Camps have been established near the fires to limit crew driving time and exposure to the risk factors presented by the steep, winding and dusty roads, according to Brown.


As a result, officials have closed several areas near the Pillsbury Lake to public use, including Pogie Point Campground, a portion of Elk Mountain Road, the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness and a portion of the Yuki Wilderness.


Cal Fire on Tuesday also reported that firefighters were gaining ground on the Mendocino Lightning Complex, which was 40-percent contained at 37,800 acres.


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


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