Thursday, 02 February 2023

News

LAKE COUNTY – Local firefighters remain at work in Southern California as fires continue to wreak havoc in the region.


On Monday, four Lake County fire agencies – Lakeport Fire Protection District, Northshore Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District and South County Fire Protection District – each sent an engine and a total of 14 firefighting personnel to Southern California, as Lake County News reported Tuesday.


An engine and three firefighters from Anderson Valley in Mendocino County accompanied the Lake County contingent, according to Lakeport Fire Protection District Chief Ken Wells.


On Wednesday Wells reported that the local firefighters are working shifts of 24 hours with 24 hours off. Wednesday was a day for them to rest, he said.


“They're all safe and sound,” Wells said. “They were involved with some structure protection last night.”


Wells said the Lake County firefighters are working with a division assigned to the Lake Arrowhead area. On Tuesday night the division had eight structure fires but managed to save 75 homes, he said.


So far, local agencies haven't had to send any more firefighters, said Wells.


Due to the extreme fire conditions in Southern California, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) reopened Northern California's fire season, which was to have officially closed on Monday.


The change, Cal Fire officials reported, allowed Cal Fire to retain seasonal employees to help fight the Southern California fires while keeping Northern California stations adequately staffed.


Cal Fire Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit Battalion Chief Redhawk Palleson said the unit already had laid off about half of the seasonal personnel it employs, but kept the rest.


Information provided by Fire Prevention Specialist Suzie Blankenship shows that Cal Fire employs about 400 seasonal fire personnel.


Palleson said the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit has sent 150 personnel – including firefighters and command personnel – along with 15 engines and three bulldozers to Southern California. “We've sent just about as many people as we can right now.”


Monday was the big push to send firefighters, said Palleson, with requests for additional help slowing since then.


Wells said it's still not clear when Lake County's firefighters will come home.


Generally, when they begin releasing equipment on large fires, Wells said officials send those from farthest away home first, which in this case could include Lake County's contingent.


Earlier this summer Lake County firefighters were away for three days to help fight the Lick Fire near Morgan Hill, said Wells.


The longest out-of-county assignment they had previous to that was in 1993, when they spent eight days fighting a fire in Malibu.


Cal Fire's Wednesday evening report stated that 461,587 acres had burned across San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Santa Barbara, Riverside and Ventura counties.


The acreage burned in Southern California so far is nearly six times the size of the land scorched by the 1996 Forks Fire. That fire burned 83,000 acres in the Mendocino National Forest and on private property in parts of Lake County.


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


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HIGH VALLEY – Mechanical problems led to a single-vehicle accident Sunday evening that injured several people.


Officer Adam Garcia of the California Highway Patrol reported that the accident occurred at 6:40 p.m. on Sunday along High Valley Road, 1.4 miles past the end of the pavement in the area north of Clearlake Oaks.


Justin Watkins, 23, of Clearlake was at the wheel when he began having problems with his vehicle's transmission, Garcia reported.


The vehicle's engine was shut off as Watkins drove downhill, said Garcia. Watkins went around a corner too fast, and experienced trouble with the steering and breaks.


As a result the vehicle went off the road's south edge and rolled over a few times before coming to

rest about 130 feet down the hill, said Garcia.


Watkins was uninjured, said Garcia. However, one of Watkins' passengers, 30-year-old Anthony Thomas of Clearlake, was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital via REACH air ambulance with moderate to major injuries, according to Garcia.


The other passengers included 22-year-old Cheryl Harmen and 21-year-old Jessica Bal, both of Clearlake, who were both transported by Clearlake Oaks Fire Department ambulance to Redbud Community Hospital, each with minor to moderate injuries, Garcia reported.


Garcia said a third passenger, Keoni Barry, 30, of Clearlake sustained minor injuries but was not transported.


CHP Officer Mark Barnes 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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LAKE COUNTY – The Lake County Air Quality Management District has lifted the 2007 burn ban effective Oct. 22, however officials are reporting that Monday is a no burn day for fire hazard reasons.


Bob Reynolds of Lake County Air Quality Management District reported Sunday that the no burn status is likely to last through Tuesday, based on requests from local fire chiefs.


Reynolds reported that the no burn day is necessary because Cal Fire is reassigning resources to the Malibu and other Southern California fires. A strike team of local firefighters also may be sent to Southern California.


In addition, higher temperatures and high winds are expected from Monday afternoon through Wednesday, Reynolds reported.


Requirements remain even with burn ban lifted


Burn permits are required for all burns in the Lake County Air Basin. Contact your local Fire Protection Agency for a burn permit or the Air Quality Management District to obtain a Smoke Management Plan for burns that may last for several days.


All agencies charge fees for open waste burning permits ranging from $21 for agricultural, residential and smoke management plans, to $64 for land development/lot clearing, according to air quality officials.


Residential burn permits require a one-acre or larger lot, a burn location at least 100 feet from all neighbors and 30 feet from any structure. Burn hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. only.


Land clearing burns require specified permits. Permits may be obtained from your local Fire Agency. Multi-day burns, standing vegetation, whole tree/vine removals and all burns over 20 acres in size must obtain a Smoke Management Plan from the Air Quality Management District. Read your burn permit carefully and follow all conditions.


Each day of the burning season is designated as a “no burn day,” a “limited burn day” or an “agricultural extended burn day.”


On “no burn days” all open burning is illegal unless an exemption has been issued for a specific fire. Burning is generally allowed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. only. Burn only the amount of material that can be completely consumed during the allowed burning hours. Only vegetation may be burned.


Remember to ensure adequate clearance for fire safety.


Please consider composting as an alternative to burning leaves, or use the vegetative waste pickup provided with your waste collection services.


Avoid smoldering fires and reduce the amount of air pollution by burning only dry vegetation. DO NOT burn green vegetation or wet leaves.


Remember, it is illegal to use a burn barrel, or to burn plastics, metals, treated wood or petroleum wastes, burn only vegetation.


Contact your local fire safe council for chipping program information.


The law requires that an able-bodied adult supervise all fires. Burning even a small amount of illegal material can result in toxic ash and smoke, which cause cancer and other health problems, and can result in significant fines.


Your neighbors may be allergic to smoke; please be considerate. Some people have respiratory problems and their health is degraded by even small amounts of smoke. If your smoke enters your neighbor’s air space, ask them if it is bothering them and take corrective action if needed.


A permit does not allow you to create health problems for others and you can be liable for fines and other costs associated with your burning.


Daily burn day status is available from your local burn information numbers: North County at 263-3121 and South County at 994-4444.


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LAKE COUNTY – On Oct. 25, many restaurants in Lake County will help open the dialogue on how to end domestic violence in our communities by participating in the “Empty Place at the Table” project.


Participating restaurants will be displaying placemats designed by the Lake Family Resource Center Domestic Violence Assistance Program to raise awareness of the issues surrounding DV and ways individuals can help victims of this crime.


“An Empty Place” is a living memorial to women, children and men who have died as a result of domestic violence. The Women’s Resource Center in Scranton, Penn., a center for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse, began the project after a string of domestic violence related murders in 1993.


In Lake County there have been at least six domestic violence-related homicides within the last 24 months.


The idea behind the project is to illustrate the void in the lives of surviving families that domestic violence leaves behind an empty place at the table. A sister who won’t celebrate another birthday, a mother missing from the Thanksgiving dinner table, or a child who will never graduate from high school.


Because everyone gathers at a table sometime, the meaning transcends ethnicity, race, class and age. Through “An Empty Place,” each victim is recognized for their individuality, while at the same time allowing viewers to view the problem universally; because domestic violence is not limited to any one group.


To mark the day, Lake Family Resource Center and restaurants throughout Lake County are encouraging everyone to call their friends and families to meet for lunch and talk about domestic violence.


The restaurants will have the placemats on the table where you can get information regarding local services for victims and ideas on how you can support friends and living with violence.


Participating restaurants are:


  • Clearlake – Main Street Bar & Grill, Cactus Grill, and Kathie’s Inn;

  • Lakeport – Tacos El Rey, Mollie Brennan’s, Ku-Hú-Guí Café at Konocti Vista Casino, and Angelina’s Bakery;

  • Kelseyville – Classic Rock Café at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, Live Oak Grill, and Saw Shop Gallery Bistro;

  • Upper Lake – Judy’s Junction and Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe;

  • Cobb – Brick Oven Pizza and Rob Roy Creekside Restaurant;

  • Nice – Rancheria Grill at Robinson Rancheria Resort and Casino;

  • Middletown – Brian’s Pizza.


In support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the placemats were used at October program meetings.


Working together, our communities can assure that on this day Lake County residents will be talking in classrooms, offices, homes, and coffeehouses, about the fact that nearly one in three women will be abused in her lifetime. We will tell our daughters that a boy should never hit them, or isolate them from others. We will open a new conversation with an acquaintance we suspect might be suffering in silence.


Law enforcement, women's shelters and government officials alone cannot prevent men from abusing the women they claim to love (or, in statistically fewer cases, women from abusing the men they claim to love). But everyone can take this initiative and make it their own - helping to reach the people whose lives you touch who are victims of family violence.


You can make a difference on Oct. 19. Talk to someone in your life about domestic violence. If you're not sure how to get the conversation started call Lake Family Resource Center to request resource materials – or to talk with a domestic violence family advocate.


Now imagine a day when we won't need to talk about domestic violence ever again.


Please join Lake Family Resource Center in making this dream a reality.


For information about the many family resources at Lake FRC, please call 707-262-1611 or 1-888-775-4336.


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BUCKINGHAM – Initial tallies are showing another great year for the Lake County Wine Alliance's annual auction.


The event was held Saturday at Buckingham.


Auction chair Marie Beery noted that "it was a beautiful event ... taken to another level this year with the participation of Narsai David and (auctioneer) Archie McLaren."


Wine Alliance member Wilda Shock reported Monday that more than 400 people attended the auction.


She said Wine Alliance Treasurer Rob Roumiguiere reported that the live auction's 34 lots brought $71,300, with 84 silent auction lots bringing an additional $14,500.


The single item bringing the highest bid in the live auction was Mike and Jan Thompson's "Pig Out at the Pump House" for $5,200, said Shock. A private tasting, tour and lunch at Ceago Vinegarden brought $3,600 and then was doubled for another group, netting $7,200.

 

The travel and wine packages in the live auction were geographically varied and included some special wine lots put together by master of ceremonies Narsai David which weren't included in the printed program, Shock added.


Event sponsors provided $65,500, said Shock, with ticket sales totaling more than $36,000.


Another large contribution, said Shock, came from the 21 wineries and 22 restaurants and food purveyors who donated all their goods and services. This year saw the largest number ever of winery and restaurants participants.


Seven Lake County wineries contributed to the Syrah Blend cuvee crafted by Jed Steele and Joy Merrilees at Steele Wines; five wineries donated to the Sauvignon Blanc cuvee, Shock said. These special blends were offered in one 9-liter bottle each in the live auction, and served at the tables of the major sponsors. A new feature this year was a bottle of donated Dusinberre champagne served to the tables of the high bidders for each live auction lot.


The event also included a special Congressional recognition of Gerald Ployez, who served as the Lake County Wine Alliance's first president when the nonprofit formed in 2000.

 

This year's Wine Auction beneficiaries include Sponsoring Survivorship, the Adult Day Care/Respite Day Care Centers, Habitat for Humanity of Lake County, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lake County, Lake County Community Radio/KPFZ, the fine arts programs at the five Lake County high schools, and the Meals on Wheels on programs at five senior centers.


Organizers report that more than $530,000 has been contributed to community groups in Lake County from the proceeds of the first six auctions. The auction chair is Marie Beery, assisted by Linda Byrd, co-chair, both of Kelseyville.

 

Estimated proceeds that will be donated to the selected beneficiaries will be between $85,000 and $90,000, Shock said, roughly equivalent to the funds raised in the two auctions. She said auction bidders are directly benefiting the organizations with their purchases, as sponsors and ticket sales primarily cover expenses of producing this major event, and those costs have increased every year.

 

Plans for next year's event are about to begin. The Wine Auction committee is meeting next week to start the review process and planning for the 2008 event, scheduled for Oct. 18.

 

Information about sponsorships and donations may be obtained from the Lake County Wine Alliance, P.O. Box 530, Kelseyville 95451; phone 866-279-WINE.


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LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's September 2007 jobless rate was 7.0 percent, down slightly from the August rate of 7.1 percent, according to the latest report from the Employment Development Department (EDD).


While September's unemployment rate is down from August, it's up 1.0 percent from the year-ago, September 2006 rate of 6.0 percent, according to the Dennis Mullins of the EDD's North Coast Region office in Eureka.


Lake County's 7 percent unemployment rate compares to a seasonally unadjusted rate of 5.4 percent for California and 4.5 percent for the U.S., Mullins reported.


Some surrounding county rates included 7.9 percent for Colusa, 5.0 percent for Mendocino and 4.5 percent for Sonoma, according to Mullins. Marin had the lowest rate in the state with 3.8 percent and Imperial County had the highest at 20.8 percent.


Lake's unemployment rate earned it a rank of 42nd out of the state's 58 counties, according to statistics Mullins provided.


Total industry employment grew by 390 jobs (2.5 percent) between September 2006 and September 2007, ending the year-over period with 16,210 jobs, Mullins reported.


Year-over job growth occurred in farm; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; private educational and health services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government, Mullins noted.


He added that year-over job losses occurred in natural resources, mining and construction.


Industry sectors with no change over the year, Mullins said, were financial activities, and professional and business services


The farm sector again led industry gainers adding 90 jobs for the year, Mullins reported. Trade, transportation and utilities, and private educational health services were each up 80 jobs.


Leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, government, other services, and information were up 50, 40, 30, 20 and 10 jobs respectively, according to Mullins. natural resources, mining and construction declined slightly, dropping 10 jobs.


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COBB – An early Saturday morning collision resulted in a man being seriously injured and later arrested for driving under the influence.


The collision, which Lake County News reported on Saturday, took place at 1:35 a.m. that same day, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.


Justin Rodella, 26, of Middletown was driving his 1997 Jeep Wrangler northbound on Highway 175 south of Wildcat Road when he struck a deer in the road and swerved to the right, according to Garcia.


Rodella's Jeep then went up an embankment, struck a tree and traveled left, going back into the roadway, Garcia said.


When the Jeep reentered the road Garcia said it was struck by a 1985 Dodge Ram SUV driven by Timothy Tillman, 30, of Cobb.


The collision caused the Jeep to roll over; Garcia said it came to rest on its right side in the southbound lane.


Garcia said Rodella sustained major non-life threatening injuries. He was flown by REACH helicopter to Sutter Lakeside Hospital, which later released him.


Rodella was subsequently arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, said Garcia.


Garcia said Officer Steve Tanguay is investigating the collision.


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 – California Highway Patrol officers screen hundreds of vehicles and made eight arrests at a checkpoint to look for drivers under the influence of alcohol Saturday night.


CHP and Clearlake Police held the checkpoint on Highway 53 north of Dam Road, between 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 a.m. Sunday, according to Officer Adam Garcia.


Garcia said officers screen 299 vehicles and gave 17 sobriety tests. They issued 21 citations and impounded seven vehicles.


CHP arrested four drivers for DUI, said Garcia, and made four other arrests, one for a warrant, two for possession of marijuana and one for public intoxication.


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 Wine Alliance President Margaret Walker and Master of Ceremonies Narsai David get some tips from Wilda Shock, a media specialist and former Lake County Marketing director. Photo by Maile Field.

 

 

KELSEYVILLE – Bidding began slowly at Saturday night’s annual Lake County Wine Auction where silent and live auction lots totaling 100 in number were expected to rake in $125,000 for Lake County charities.


Live auction bidding, conducted by Archie McLaren, picked up speed and humor when Dr. Paula Dhanda of Kelseyville interrupted the bidding for lot 6, a private tasting, tour and lunch at Ceago Vinegarden, with a personal testimonial.


Bidding had slowed to near $3,000 for the 12-person lunch, when Dhanda took the microphone to tell the more than 400 ticket-holders how much she had enjoyed her $6,000 purchase from a prior year’s event. And the crowd roared when she added that she was Ceago owner Jim Fetzer’s gynecologist.


Clay Shannon, of Shannon Ridge Vineyards and Winery, whose ranch neighbors Fetzer’s Ceago, ended up winning the lot – twice - at $3,600 each, if Jim would agree to remove a tree for him.


Lake County Wine Auction Chair Marie Beery said about 70 percent of the attendees were from Lake County, adding that some of that number are second-home owners in the area.


The event is hosted by the Lake County Wine Alliance at the Buckingham Golf and Country Club and is held in a large tent on the golf course.


Master of Ceremonies Narsai David, food and wine editor at KCBS in San Francisco, welcomed the crowd, noting that Lake County is experiencing a “renaissance” in winegrowing, with 8,000 acres currently in grape vine production.


Alliance President Margaret Walker reminisced about planning the first wine auction 10 years ago. She said the event was hosted by just five wineries and 10 restaurants. The five wineries were Ployez, Wildhurst, Steele, Kendall-Jackson and Guenoc Wineries.


On Saturday some 21 Lake County wineries were on hand to pour their wines.

 

 

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Congressman Mike Thompson considers bidding on a silent auction item at Saturday's Lake County Wine Auction. Photo by Maile Field.
 


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This image of the area around Los Angeles captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite on October 22, shows smoke pouring from several large blazes northwest of Los Angeles. MODIS flies onboard NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites as part of the NASA-centered international Earth Observing System.



LAKE COUNTY – Firefighters from around Lake County left Monday to join the fight against wildland fires that are ravaging seven Southern California counties.


The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) reported Monday evening that 14 large fires have burned nearly 270,000 acres across Southern California. In San Diego County alone more than 168,000 acres have burned.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office reported that 250,000 people have been evacuated from Southern California communities.


Lakeport Fire Protection District Chief Ken Wells said firefighters from four Lake County agencies and one department in Mendocino County left early Monday morning as part of a five-engine strike team.


They met at the intersection of Highway 53 and 20 to travel to Interstate 5 and down to Southern California, said Wells. He received a call from them at 10 a.m. while they stopped along the way.


Wells said Lake County resources heading south include four engines – one each from Lakeport Fire Protection District, Northshore Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District and South County Fire Protection District – with each engine accompanied by three firefighters.


In addition, Lakeport Fire Protection District sent a strike team leader and an assistant strike team leader was supplied by Northshore Fire Protection District, said Wells.


The fifth engine with three more firefighters came from Anderson Valley, said Wells.


Wells said local firefighters were first alerted that they might be needed early Sunday afternoon by Mark Reina of Cal Fire, who is involved with coordinating firefighter response for the local Office of Emergency Services.


Local fire agencies have a mutual aid policy, said Wells, and earlier this summer responded to the Lick Fire in Morgan Hill.


On Sunday night, Reina let local agencies know that they would, indeed, be needed, Wells said.


“We don't really know the commitment time when they call us,” said Wells, adding that Lake County's firefighters will remain in Southern California “as long as they need us.”


He added that, with the fires burning now in Southern California, “it's probably going to be a longtime commitment.”


In addition to Lake County firefighters, Fire Captain Justin Benguerel of Cal Fire said Monday that firefighters from the agency's Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit were activated Sunday and began leaving that same afternoon.


The Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit sent 20 “overhead” positions – or personnel who help runs firefighting teams – Benguerel said.


In addition, Benguerel said the unit sent two engine strike teams totaling 10 engines, 30 firefighters and one leader; three crew strike teams totaling 54 people; and one bulldozer strike team, which included two bulldozers and five personnel.


Benguerel said the unit was putting together another engine strike team Monday morning.


Cal Fire's local unit often sends strike teams to fires around the state, said Benguerel. But the recent mobilization is significant, he said.


“We haven't seen this type of mobilization on this type of scale since 2003,” said Benguerel, when the unit sent aid to the 280,278-acre Cedar Fire in San Diego County.


State sends resources to assist


On Monday, Gov. Schwarzenegger directed the California National Guard to make 1,500 guardsmen – including 200 troops currently patrolling the California/Mexico border – available to support the firefighting efforts. Schwarzenegger also quested four National Guard helicopters through the Office of Emergency Services.


Also at Schwarzenegger's direction, by Monday more than 2,300 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inmates and more than 170 custody staff had joined city and county fire departments and state agencies as part of a major coordinated effort to battle the widespread wildfires in Southern California. Additional crews are being mobilized.


In order to make more resources available for the firefighting effort, on Sunday night Schwarzenegger declared a State of Emergency in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura.


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 of 8 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's (Cal Fire) 2007 fire season is officially at an end for Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit.


“The significant rain we have had thus far, and the forecast of additional precipitation, will allow the unit to transition from fire season into a winter readiness mode,” Unit Chief Ernie Loveless said in a written statement.


Fire Prevention Specialist Suzie Blankenship told Lake County News that Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit has 225 personnel and 400 seasonal firefighters across 21 stations, two conservation camps and two bases for air operations. The unit covers 2,102,000 acres in the State Responsibility Areas in all of Lake, Napa and Sonoma, and parts of Colusa, Solano and Yolo counties.


In Lake County alone Cal Fire covers 390,000 acres, Blankenship said, and has three unit stations.


Cal Fire reported that the end of fire season in the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit coincides with the closing of the fire season in the neighboring Santa Clara Unit, which includes Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Alameda, and the areas of Stanislaus and San Joaquin west of I-5.


With the end of fire season, Cal Fire is releasing seasonal firefighters, downstaffing some fire stations and ending contracts for fixed wing aircraft such as air tankers. Loveless said the reduction in staffing and resources “is indicative of a major reduction in the wildland fire danger.”


However, Loveless said area residents need to remember that even with the rains, a period of dry windy conditions could dry fuels to the point where wildland fires are possible. As a result, Loveless said Cal Fire is prepared to quickly “ramp up” if conditions dictate.


Cal Fire reported that the end of fire season also lifts the suspension on burning permits in State Responsibility Areas. State law requires those burning in State Responsibility Areas to have a permit from Cal Fire from May 1 until the end of declared fire season.


To conduct controlled burns, individuals must meet all fire and air pollution permit requirements, according to Cal Fire, who urged the public to contact their local fire agency and air quality district for requirements.


The burn ban in the county at large is up to the Lake County Air Quality Management District, said Blankenship.


On Friday Bob Reynolds of the Lake County Air Quality Management District reported that the burn ban was lifted. All burns in the Lake County Air Basin require burn permits, Reynolds said.


A busy fire season


“Lake County had a lot of fires,” Blankenship said of the 2007 fire season.


However, none were overly large, she added.


The largest was a 128-acre fire near Robinson Rancheria that broke out July 28, said Blankenship. Investigators eventually concluded that the fire was caused by children playing with matches.


The season's second-largest fire, said Blankenship, was a 100-acre fire near that broke out July 16 near the Noble Ranch subdivision off of Spruce Grove Road.


That fire ignited when a plastic tarp flew into power lines, which shorted the lines, causing one of them to break, according to a report from Cal Fire Battalion Chief Eric Hoffman. That broken power line then hit the ground, igniting the fire.


Blankenship said 60 percent of all human-caused fires during fire season are caused by equipment, particularly use of mowers in the heat of the day after the relative humidity drops.


As we head into the cooler months, Blankenship said Cal Fire is encouraging county residents to clear the required 100 feet of defensive space around their homes, which will help protect them during the fire season.


Cal Fire reported that the closing of fire season doesn't end the agency's fire protection responsibilities.


Cal Fire provides year round emergency response as the fire department for Napa County, the Town of Yountville, the South Lake Fire Protection District and The Sea Ranch. Additional response is also provided by contract to the Cloverdale Fire Protection District and to Sonoma County in both the western and southern portions of the county.


In addition, Cal Fire also provides personnel and incident management expertise for emergencies statewide, including earthquakes and floods.


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 San Francisco man's murder trial appears to be on schedule to start early next month after a motion to have the District Attorney's Office recused from the case was denied last week.


Judge William McKinstry on Oct. 11 turned down defense attorney Stuart Hanlon's request that District Attorney Jon Hopkins and his office be removed from prosecuting the case of 23-year-old Renato Hughes.


Hughes is facing trial for the murders of Christian Foster and Rashad Williams on Dec. 7, 2005, as Lake County News has reported.


Hughes did not shoot the two young men, who in fact were shot by Clearlake Park resident Shannon Edmonds, from whose home the men were allegedly fleeing from a robbery attempt.


However, Hopkins alleges Hughes is responsible for their deaths under a provocative act law, which holds a person responsible for the death of accomplices in a crime that is likely to result in a lethal response.


Hanlon has fought to have the trial removed from Lake County over this past year.


Last week, Hanlon went before McKinstry – the retired Alameda County Superior Court judge assigned to the case – to ask that Hopkins and his office to be recused from prosecuting Hughes.


Hanlon alleged that Hopkins should be removed from the case because he is refusing to prosecute Shannon Edmonds for trying to force his girlfriend, Lori Tyler, to commit suicide with him on Aug. 3.


The state Attorney General's Office sent Senior Assistant Attorney General Gerald Engler to lodge that agency's opposition to the motion, for which Engler argued there was no justification, Hopkins reported.


“We lost the recusal motion,” said Hanlon, which means he can't call Hopkins as a witness in the case relating to prosecuting Edmonds in the double-suicide attempt.


Hopkins denied that he has decided not to charge Edmonds relating to the suicide matter.


“At this point there has not been a determination made to file charges,” he said Friday.


Hopkins said Hanlon is attempting to transfer the attention from Hughes' alleged actions to Edmonds in order to get the jury to decide in his favor.


McKinstry ruled that evidence relating to Edmonds' alleged prior drug dealing in Lake and Mendocino counties will be admissable during the trial, said Hanlon.


In addition, McKinstry ruled that evidence regarding a shotgun found near the crime scene weeks later will be admitted, Hopkins reported,which was evidence Hanlon had wanted blocked.


Aqeela El-Amin Bakheit, president of Lake County's branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was in court for the hearing. She said McKinstry also ruled that if Edmonds is to testify in the case he cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment – which protects individuals from self-incrimination – which he did, 147 times, during preliminary testimony.


The two sides must go before McKinstry Monday afternoon to argue the issue of whether or not the attempted suicide should be disclosed during the trial.


After that, Hopkins said jury selection is set to start Oct. 23 and 24, with four panels of jurors to be called over those two days.


Hanlon and Hopkins both explained that on the initial days of jury selection jurors will complete a questionnaire, which the prosecution and defense will go over before the jurors return for further questioning Oct. 30.


Based on their answers on the questionnaire, some of the jurors may be questioned in private about possible biases, said Hanlon.


If he doesn't believe he can get a fair jury based on the questionnaires, Hanlon said he could ask for a new jury.


Hopkins, who will prosecute the case himself, said that he hopes that a jury will be selected in time for the trial to get under way Nov. 6.


Next week Hopkins said he expects to have a better idea of how long the trial could last. He expects it to last all of November – with the court taking a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday – and into December.


The first two weeks of the trial will take place in Judge Arthur Mann's Department 3 courtroom, while Mann is away, said Hopkins. Then the trial will be moved around to available courtrooms.


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


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