Saturday, 20 July 2024


Holly Borgen sent this photograph of the fire shot from the Grimesey Ranch near Wilkenson.

CLEARLAKE – Firefighters remained on the scene of a small wildland fire in Clearlake throughout Monday night and were expected to be on scene Tuesday to continue mopping up.

The fire, dispatched at around 6:30 p.m., was located in brush with grassy oak woodland on two flanks and a moderate rate of spread, according to reports from the scene. Initially there were concerns that the fire had the potential to double in size.

Lake County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Willie Sapeta said the fire's final size ranged between four and seven acres.

Full containment was reached around 8 p.m., about an hour and a half after the fire was dispatched, he said.

“We haven't totally walked the fire but there's line all around it,” he said in an interview around 9:30 p.m.

Sapeta said Lake County Fire and Cal Fire had joint command of the fire, which initially had been dispatched as being located at 12th Avenue and Boyles.

When they arrived at the scene firefighters discovered it was on Wilkinson Avenue, where incident command eventually was located, he said.

No structures were lost, Sapeta said.

He credited Cal Fire aircraft with being “phenomenal” in their response.

“We had two tankers here within minutes,” he said.

Sapeta said there were 12 to 13 engines, four aircraft, two helicopters and five crews between his district and Cal Fire.

He said Cal Fire is handling the investigation, noting the fire is “suspicious in nature.”

“We're going to be here all night,” Sapeta said, explaining that firefighters also would be on scene Tuesday to continue mopping up the area, which was marked by heavy brush and chemise.

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Clearlake, Calif., resident Remy McCosker photographed a Cal Fire air tanker dropping retardant on a fire off of Wilkinson Avenue on Monday, August 2, 2010. McCosker said the fire was located about a quarter mile from her home.




A Cal Fire air tanker dropping retardant, captured by Holly Borgen.




The fire burned several acres and put up a large smoke column. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

A picture of the Cow Mountain fire on Sunday, August 1, 2010, taken by Engineer Cody Snodgrass.



COW MOUNTAIN – By nightfall Sunday fire officials reported that a blaze that began earlier in the day had reached about 200 acres with efforts to suppress it expected to continue Monday morning.

The fire in the Mendocino County portion of the Cow Mountain area was first reported shortly before 4 p.m. Sunday, as Lake County News has reported.

Cal Fire, which was handling the fire from its Howard Forest station, dispatched firefighters, equipment, helicopters and air tankers to the fire, according to radio reports. Precise information on resources was not available Sunday evening.

Smoke from the fire was visible for miles along Highway 20. The smoke traveled down the Northshore and hung heavy over the Blue Lakes end of Scotts Valley Road, with the evening sun turning bright orange because of the smoky haze.

Four to five air tankers continued to circle the fire close to 8 p.m. Sunday, with the smoke hanging above the mountains behind Blue Lakes.

About a half hour later the air resources were released, with two tankers ordered to start work Monday morning, based on radio reports.

No information on containment was available from Cal Fire Sunday night.

Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins said Cal Fire was the lead agency on the incident, which he said didn't make it into Lake County. The large plume of smoke had many people concerned about its location and size.

He said Lake County firefighters had been prepared to respond if needed.

“We had units out there standing by in case we needed to get into the Scotts Valley area and help them out,” he said.

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A Cal Fire plane circles over the Cow Mountain incident on Sunday, August 1, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

The 2010 Fault Activity Map of California was released in April 2010 and is the first all-digital statewide fault map. Courtesy of the California Geological Survey.




LAKE COUNTY – A map released this spring tracks all of California faults – the earthquake variety, that is.


The California Geological Survey's 2010 Fault Activity Map of California marks the survey's 150th anniversary.


It's based on maps compiled by Charles Jennings published in 1977 and 1994, but it's different in an important way, according to Chris Wills, supervising engineering geologist.


“It's an all-digital project,” said Wills, explaining that the map's previous version in 1994 was drawn on a printer's plate, which can't show as much detail.


A number of the California Geological Survey's maps over the last 10 years have been fully digital, but this was the first fully digital statewide map, he said.


“For this version we went back to all the original sources” for all of the faults, he said.


Wills said the California Geological Survey also works with the US Geological Survey, sharing information about fault activity and compiling fault activity rates that area used for the US Geological Survey's national seismic hazard maps. Those maps, in turn, are used in developing building codes.


He said the new state fault map shows the faults that criss-cross California in more precise detail and location that before. The map quality is done at a 1 to 750,000 scale, with one inch equaling 12 miles.


“The best thing about this map is there's a lot more capability here than there was before,” said Wills, explaining that a couple hundred faults have been updated on the map, with some added and even some deleted.


Wills said there were many “bedrock” faults that have since broken the surface and become active. A big earthquake in the Southern California desert in 1999 ruptured just such a fault that hadn't been known.


Quakes are classified according to how recently they offset the ground surface, said Wills. Faults classified as active have been active since the last ice age.


The quaternary period is the most recent in the geologic time scale, spanning the last two million years. “Almost everything we call soil has been deposited in the last two million years,” he said, with deposits coming from the ice ages.


The map color codes the faults. Wills said if they've been active in the last few millions years, or the early quaternary period, they're purple, while late quaternary period, from 11,700 to 700,000 years from the present, are green. Both of those time frames belong to the Pleistocene epoch.


More recent late quaternary periods, including the Holocene epoch, from 11,700 years ago to 200 years ago, are marked in orange, with the historic period – 200 years ago to the present day – denoted in red, according to the map legend.





A closeup of the Lake County area from the 2010 Fault Activity Map of California. Courtesy of the California Geological Survey.





The map shows the Lake County area has several faults from the early quaternary period, noted in purple, which follow the Northshore of the lake or run parallel to it.


They include the Clover Valley fault line, Hunting, Hunting Creek, Ellis and Wilson faults, the Resort fault to the east of Indian Valley Reservoir and the long Bartlett Springs fault line, which runs along Lake Pillsbury, which recently has seen some increased seismic activity, as Lake County News has reported.


On the other side of the lake there is the Big Valley fault, denoted in green, originating in the late quaternary period, with one portion of it marked in red, showing that displacement has occurred within the last 200 years, according to the map explanation.


In the seismically busy Geysers geothermal steamfield area, there are a number of unnamed faults from the Holocene epoch – marked in orange – and early quaternary period lines in purple.


Also coming from the late quaternary period is the Collayomi fault, which runs through the Middletown and Cobb areas.


“In the Clear Lake area there aren't a lot of new faults,” but there are more detailed lines included in the map now, said Wills.


He said the volcanic deposits in the Lake County area are between one and two millions years old, and almost all of the faults now illustrated on the county's portion of the map were on the 1994 fault map.


Will said The Geysers area has a high natural rate of earthquakes, plus whatever is being added to it through geothermal production.


He said The Geysers always is the source of small earthquakes because it's a shallow magma body.


Lake County isn't quite as active seismically as places in Humboldt County, Cape Mendocino or even Imperial County, which this spring was dominating the state for aftershocks from larger quakes, Wills said.


Some regional faults have shown recent dramatic changes, such as the Maacama fault, which has broken pavement in the driveway of the Willits Safeway, he said.


A few of the newly recognized faults are in the Sierras, he said, with new active faults found in the Lake Tahoe area.


Wills said they include the Polaris fault east of Truckee and the West Tahoe fault that runs into the lake and comes on shore near Emerald Bay before moving south. In the southern Sierra there is the Kern Canyon fault.


“It's a generalization to say that the more recent faults have the most earthquake hazard near them, but that's not far off,” he said.


The larger active faults have the majority of the earthquake hazard, and Wills said the map gives a good idea of where the hazards are.


San Andreas continues to evolve


Then, there is the San Andreas fault, perhaps the state's best known.


The map shows the fault running in an ominous blood red line from Southern California all the way up to Cape Mendocino, where it disappears into the Pacific Ocean.


The northern portion of the San Andreas fault, which Wills said runs from San Juan Bautista northward, includes the epicenter of the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which caused a rupture of the fault.


A portion of the fault north of Mendocino and noted in purple is believed to have resulted from the 1906 quake, however, Wills noted, “The data is not all that clear.”


From San Juan Bautista south to Parkfield, Will said the San Andreas is a “creeping” fault, meaning there is constant slow movement of it.


South of Parkfield down to San Bernardino is the San Andreas' 1857 rupture, which he said is the same size as the rupture from 1906, “but it was only 50 years earlier,” said Wills. Faults usually don't have that many major ruptures in such a short period of time.


There also were big quakes along the fault in 1838 in San Francisco and 1812 in Southern California, Wills said.


Wills said the San Andreas fault has the most slip between the North American and Pacific plates. The Pacific plate is moving northwest at almost 40 millimeters a year. “Over 20 of that is on the San Andreas itself,” he said.


North of Cape Mendocino, “You cross into a whole different plate boundary,” said Wills.


Near the mid-ocean ridge where the ocean floor is being created is the area known as the Gorda plate, and it's close to where the big quakes happened off of the coast of Eureka earlier this year, he said.


He said the Gorda plate is being pushed underneath the continent on the Cascadia subduction zone. “That's the zone where you can have very large earthquakes,” he said.


Farther north is the Juan de Fuca plate, which was the site of the Cascadia earthquake, measuring around magnitude 9, which occurred in January of 1700, Wills said. It's an active fault but geologists aren't sure of the fault's actual route.


The Cascadia quake caused tsunamis on the coast of California, Oregon and Washington, he said.


“That geologic evidence gets preserved in some of these bays all up and down the coast,” Wills said.


Wills said salt marsh and edges of freshwater marshes suddenly subsided below sea level.


The Cascadia earthquake was similar to the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Chile last February, he said. “The tsunamis that came on shore there were devastating.”


An anthropologist who was the wife of a Humboldt State geologist studied the Cascadia quake based on American Indian stories of the time, and Wills said she found stories of a “long shaking” in the middle of a winter night.


Already out of date


Shortly after the map was released in April it already was out of date, said Wills.


An earthquake in early April in Baja caused surface faults, he said. “We have historic surface breakage on a number of faults that we didn't before.”


It probably will be a decade before another comprehensive update of the map is completed, but Wills said it will not require as much work next time, and the technology may allow them to conduct updates more frequently.


Much of the work for the new map was done by senior geologist Bill Bryant and student assistants, said Wills.


Wills said they've had a “surprising amount of interest” in the map.


“I think people are primed to care about earthquakes right now,” he said, especially in light of large and highly destructive earthquakes around California and the world this year.


To see the map in detail, visit here.


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COW MOUNTAIN, Calif. – A fire sparked in the Cow Mountain area of Mendocino County continued to burn on Monday, but state fire officials reported that its main spread had been stopped.

Cal Fire personnel began responding to the vegetation fire on North Cow Mountain at around 4 p.m. Sunday, according to a report from Cal Fire spokesperson Julie Cooley.

Cooley said the main fire spread had beens stopped as of 11 a.m. Monday, with crews continuing to work to contain a five-acre spot fire.

By the end of the day, the fire had burned 293 acres and was 45-percent contained, Cal Fire said. What caused the fire still is under investigation.

The firefighting effort was made more difficult and slow by the steep terrain and heavy brush on North Cow Mountain, Cooley said. On Sunday evening several air tankers and air attacks worked the fire because of the remote terrain.

On Monday Cooley said resources committed to the fire from Cal Fire, the Bureau of Land Management, and Ukiah Valley, Potter Valley, Redwood Valley and Hopland fire departments included 370 personnel, 10 engines, 16 fire crews, 6 dozers, two air tankers and three helicopters.

No injuries to firefighters or civilians have been reported, Cooley said.

Full containment of the fire is expected by 6 p.m. Tuesday, with full control by 8 a.m. Friday, according to Cooley's report.

Cal Fire is asking that anyone with information regarding the fire's cause call 707-459-7414.

Elsewhere around the state, Cal Fire continued to respond to wildland blazes, some of which were sparked late last month by lightning, as Lake County News has reported.

The West Fire in Kern County, southeast of Tehachapi, was fully contained after burning 1,658 acres, Cal Fire reported. Also fully contained was the Scissors Fire in San Diego County, which burned 110 acres, and the McDonald Fire, which burned 9,408 acres in the BLM's Northern California District in Lassen County.

Still burning in federal and local jurisdictions around the state were the Dutch Fire in the Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County, which was 20 percent contained after burning 522 acres; Los Angele's County's Crown Fire, at 13,918 acres and 97-percent containment; the Bar Fire in Plumas County, 900 acres, 30-percent containment, with full containment expected Thursday; and the Bull Fire in the Sequoia National Forest in Kern County, 16,442 acres, 95-percent containment, full containment anticipated on Aug. 10.

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Veggie Girl Esther Oertel explores the refreshing cucumber in this week's column. Courtesy photo.


The term “cool as a cucumber” is more than a cliché. Cucumbers really are a cooling food, which is one reason why it’s especially nice to have them around in the midst of the summer heat.

They’re commonly featured in the cuisine of countries throughout the world with hot climates. Think of raita from India, a condiment made with cucumber and yogurt that offsets their spicy cuisine, or tzatziki, a salad served in the Greece, also made with cucumber and yogurt, but flavored differently.

Africans enjoy many dishes with cucumber, such as marinated salad from the Ivory Coast and a cucumber-tomato salad from Gabon. Africa, in fact, is home to what may be the most unusual cuke of all, the African horned cucumber with spiky yellow skin and melon-like green flesh.

Spain has gazpacho, a cold vegetable soup that includes cucumber, and Thai cuisine offers a variety of cucumber salads, including larb, a salad made with meat.

The cucumber is a beloved veggie in places where it gets hot, but its popularity doesn’t stop there. It’s also loved in parts of the world without such high temperatures.

Think of Denmark, where cucumber salad is made with dill, or England with its famous cucumber tea sandwiches. The Scots have a traditional recipe for whiskey-cured salmon with cucumber.

Not only do cucumbers have a cooling effect when consumed internally, they cool the skin externally, such as when they’re used to treat sunburn. There are two compounds in cucumbers – ascorbic acid and caffeic acid – that prevent water retention, thus making them useful for swollen eyes, dermatitis and burns.

Since cucumbers contain silica, an essential component for healthy connective tissue, cucumber juice is recommended to improve the complexion and health of the skin.

Mint is often paired with cucumber in cuisine. (Think of Thai spring rolls that feature both or the mint that flavors Greek tzatziki.) I love this pairing and often infuse water with these two elements for a refreshing no-calorie thirst quencher.

To a pitcher of water add a peeled, seeded cucumber cut into spears and a nice handful of mint that’s been slightly crushed (bruised). Place in the fridge to infuse for at least an hour, then enjoy!

Speaking of water, cucumbers are full of it, and the moisture gives it its characteristic cooling flavor.

Cucumbers have become a popular ingredient in cocktails, from margaritas to gin to sake. For a cooling non-alcoholic drink, blend peeled and seeded cucumber with fresh lime juice in a blender along with your chosen sweetener, such as simple syrup or agave nectar, using a ratio of one cucumber to two or three limes. Strain and serve over ice, garnished with mint or a lime slice.

They’re a natural diuretic – the best known one – and for this reason they’re said to be helpful in treating kidney and urinary bladder diseases. They’re also supposed to promote the health of the liver and pancreas, as well as the gums and teeth.

Cucumbers are members of the gourd family, which also includes squashes and melons. They’re thought to have originated in India – though some sources cite other parts of Asia – and they’ve been cultivated there for at least 3,000 years.

Greenhouse cultivation of cucumbers was invented during the time of King Louis XIV, presumably so he could have a ready supply since he loved their taste.

Even earlier, the ancient Romans invented artificial growing methods so their emperor, Tiberius, could have cucumbers on his table throughout the year. They used raised beds on wheels to follow the sun and special growing houses glazed with oil cloth.

Supermarkets typically stock only two types of cucumbers – the garden, or market, cucumber and the long, slender dark green English cucumber, which is most often wrapped in plastic – but there is so much more!

Last summer, I discovered a wonderful variety at a local farmers’ market – the Armenian cucumber – and it has since become one of my favorites. It’s also known as the snake cucumber or snake melon, but don’t let this somewhat scary name fool you. It’s one of the nicest slicing cucumbers around.

The ribbed, pale green skin looks as though it would be tough, but is delicate. Like the English cucumber, it doesn’t need to be seeded or peeled and has a mild flavor. It tends to be long and slender, but sometimes grows with twists and turns that resemble a crook-necked squash.

I visited Kelseyville’s Leonardis Organics recently, where Jim Leonardis is growing specially selected varieties of cucumbers, including a variegated version of the Armenian cucumber with handsome dark and light green stripes.

According to Leonardis, the varieties of cucumbers most commonly grown for markets don’t do well in Lake County’s ultra hot summers, so he’s picked less common varieties that do not become bitter in the heat, including the Asian cucumber, which is similar to the English cucumber, but with spiny skin.

He’s also growing round, yellow lemon cucumbers, which are nice for pickling.

Such interesting varieties can be found at farmers’ markets, active now around the lake. Thankfully, locally grown cukes aren’t covered with the wax that commercial growers use to extend shelf life.

The recipe I offer is my version of tzatziki, the Greek cucumber-yogurt salad mentioned previously. In this version, it’s made with dill, but I’d encourage you to also try it with mint. It’s best when made with real Greek yogurt, but if this is unavailable, it can be simulated.

To do this, buy the best plain full-fat yogurt you can find and allow it to sit in a strainer lined with paper towels or cheesecloth atop a bowl several hours or overnight. (Refrigerate it during the process.) This allows liquid to drain off, leaving behind a thickened, richer yogurt.

You’ll be surprised at the amount of water that appears in your bowl. If you’re using this method, be sure to buy enough yogurt for the recipe as it reduces in size by about half.

Greek cucumber yogurt salad (tzatziki)

2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

2 cloves garlic, smashed, then finely diced

Juice of half a lemon

Chopped fresh dill to taste (or fresh mint)

Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

Combine the yogurt, garlic and lemon juice in a bowl. Add cucumber to yogurt mixture, and add dill or mint to your liking. Mix and enjoy!

Esther Oertel, the "Veggie Girl," is a personal chef and culinary coach and is passionate about local produce. Oertel owns The SageCoach Personal Chef Service and teaches culinary classes at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake. She welcomes your questions and comments; e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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The 1990 Chevy Prizm belonging to Robert Myers Jr. of Lakeport, Calif., following a head-on collision on Highway 20 near Clearlake Oaks, Calif., on Sunday, August 1, 2010. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.



CLEARLAKE OAKS, Calif. – A Sunday afternoon head-on collision on Highway 20 near Clearlake Oaks sent two people to the hospital with minor injuries and temporarily closed down the highway.

Mary Smothers, 57, of Willits and an unnamed passenger who were riding in a 1997 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck were transported to St. Helena Hospital Clearlake following the crash, which occurred at about 3:40 p.m. Sunday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Joe Wind.

The crash occurred on Highway 20 west of Island Drive, Wind said.

Robert Myers Jr., 50, of Lakeport, was traveling eastbound in a 1990 Chevy Prizm when Wind said Myers allowed his vehicle to cross over the double yellow lines in a corner.

Myers' car hit Smothers' pickup head-on, with the vehicles coming to rest and blocking the roadway, Wind said.

The CHP and Northshore Fire Protection District personnel responded to the scene, where Wind said the roadway was closed because first responders had to wait for tow trucks to move the vehicles.

Northshore Fire transported Smothers and her passenger to the hospital, where Wind said they were treated for minor injuries.

Both drivers were licensed, everyone was wearing their seat belt, and drugs and alcohol were not involved, according to Wind.

CHP Officer Josh Dye is investigating the crash, Wind said.

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Mary Smothers of Willits, Calif., and a passenger were riding in this 1997 Toyota Tacoma when they were hit head-on by another vehicle on Highway 20 near Clearlake Oaks, Calif., on Sunday, August 1, 2010. Smothers and her passenger sustained minor injuries and were taken to St. Helena Hospital Clearlake. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.

The new 'county fair' quilt block on the south facing wall of the Phil Lewis Hall at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Lakeport, Calif. Photo provided by Vicky Parish Smith.




LAKEPORT – On July 12 the Lake County Fairgrounds on Martin Street in Lakeport joined the Lake County Quilt Trail.

A fairgrounds crew installed the hand-painted 8-foot by 8-foot quilt block onto the south facing wall of the Phil Lewis Hall.

The design was chosen because of its appropriate name, “county fair.”

The Phil Lewis Hall is the largest free-span multipurpose building available for public events in Lake County at 10,000 square feet.

Built in 1950, it was named after the first manager of the fairgrounds.

That naming tradition has continued throughout the fairgrounds, with a building named after every retired fairgrounds manager, and also a couple of influential fair board members.

Lake County’s largest event, the Lake County Fair, traditionally occurs Labor Day weekend each year at the fairgrounds in Lakeport. The fair is one of the county’s favorite summertime activities, and is enjoyed by more than 37,000 people each year.

The annual event features a variety of entertainment, food, exhibits, a carnival and livestock shows.

More than 4,000 items made, grown, or raised by Lake County residents during the previous year are entered in the contest at Lake County Fair, which includes one building dedicated entirely to textile items, including quilts.

The 2010 Lake County Fair opens Thursday, Sept. 2, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 5, in Lakeport.

This year's Lake County fair theme is “Fun for the Whole Herd!” For the first time this year fairgoers can enjoy the Lake County Quilt Trail quilt block, “county fair.”

For your own self-guided map of all 13 quilt blocks in the Lake County Quilt Trail, go to the Kelseyville Pear Festival Web site,, and click on the “Quilt Trail.”

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LAKEPORT – Downtown Lakeport will be the scene of an old-fashioned German celebration when it hosts Oktoberfest this fall.

The event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 2.

Main Street will be closed from First to Fourth streets and filled with food, arts, crafts and game booths for all ages.

An authentic beer garden will be created with the opportunity to taste a large variety of microbrews. Activities such as pretzel making, pretzel eating, beer stein carrying contests, authentic beer stein contests are among some of the “fun things to do” in which adults and children can participate.

There will be games and contests, beer tasting, wine tasting, great food booths, arts and crafts booths, and music and entertainment throughout the entire day, culminating with a street dance.

A new event at Oktoberfest, not held in Lake County previously, will be a “Dachshund Derby Dash.”

If you want your dachshund to be a wiener winner, contact the chamber or go to for an entry application.

The Dachshund Derby Dash will have a short course for the short-legged dachshunds, with an emphasis on safety. All dogs must have some dachshund in them, but need not be purebreds.

First place will award the title to your friend of “2010 Wiener Winner” and he or she will win his person a $100! Weiner costumes are encouraged for your doggy, the best dog costume will receive a nice prize.

The rules are simple: vaccinated dogs only, leashed at all times until the race. The entry fee is $10. For more information on the derby contact Jan Parkinson at 707-349-2919.

Plan now to attend Oktoberfest and become reacquainted with downtown merchants as you enjoy a day long festival of fun.

For more information, visit or call the Lake County Chamber at 707-263-5092.

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California Highway Patrol Officer Earl Scott was shot and killed during a traffic stop in February 2006 in Modesto, Calif. After four and a half years the man who shot and killed Scott was sentenced to life in prison on Monday, August 2, 2010. Photo courtesy of the California Highway Patrol.




MODESTO, Calif. – A Stockton man has pleaded guilty to the 2006 murder of a California Highway Patrol officer.

Columbus Allen, 34, entered the guilty plea to the shooting death of CHP Officer Earl Scott on Monday, according to Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager.

Fladager said Allen pleaded guilty to murder with use of a gun and admitted the special circumstances of murder of a peace officer in the performance of his duties, and murder to avoid arrest.

Allen also admitted that the murder was intentional and perpetrated by means of discharging a firearm from a vehicle at another person outside the vehicle with intent to inflict death, and he additionally pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and admitted having served a prior prison term, according to Fladager.

On Feb. 17, 2006, Scott pulled Allen over for a traffic violation on Highway 99 just outside of Modesto. It was during the traffic stop that Allen fatally shot Scott.

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow remembered Scott as an exceptional officer and a consummate professional who worked tirelessly to make the highways of California safer. He thanked the law enforcement agencies who brought the case together.

Farrow said justice finally had been served.

“While a guilty plea can never erase the pain, sorrow and devastating loss felt by Earl’s family and friends, including his CHP family, may the finality of a plea and a life sentence in this case at least bring some measure of relief that this part of the process is over,” Farrow said.

The case had faced four years of delays but it had been scheduled to begin last week in Sacramento County where it had been moved as a result of a change of venue, Fladager reported.

The Fifth District Court of Appeals imposed a stay in the proceedings on July 26 in order to consider a writ filed by the defense to challenge the Sacramento judge who was assigned the trial. Fladager said if Allen had been convicted of the charges, a penalty phase would have followed the trial during which the jury would have been asked whether to recommend imposition of the death penalty.

Allen’s lawyers approached Fladager's office early last week indicating that Allen would be willing to plead guilty to all charges – and waive the right to appeal – for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole in lieu of prosecutors continuing to seek the death penalty.

After consulting with family members and friends of Scott and learning of their support for the resolution, Fladager's office agreed to accept the plea offer by the defense.

“While there may never be such a thing as ‘closure’ for the friends and family of Officer Scott, there will at least be finality to the criminal case,” Fladager said. “There will be no decades-long appeal process for them to endure and constantly worry about the possibility of reversal.”

After the defendant entered a guilty plea, Scott's family and friends had the opportunity to give victim impact statements. Among those addressing the court were Officer Robert Hart of the Modesto Police Department and CHP Officer Brandon Moore.

Judge Scott Steffen sentenced Columbus Allen to life in prison without the possibility of parole in addition to three years for the charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm and having served a prior prison term, Fladager reported.

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COW MOUNTAIN – A fire sparked Sunday afternoon in the Cow Mountain area west of Lakeport quickly rose to more than 100 acres, according to fire officials.

The fire was reported shortly before 4 p.m. with a rapidly building smoke column, Cal Fire and the California Highway Patrol reported.

Cal Fire sent helicopters and air attacks to respond to the fire, which witnesses could see from across the lake in Kelseyville, and from Highway 20 near Blue Lakes.

Ash was reportedly falling near Upper Lake, and light winds were carrying smoke from the fire east along the Northshore.

Reports from the scene indicated that firefighters were having trouble accessing the remote location with their engines.

Initial reports shortly after 4 p.m. put the fire at about 35 acres, but just after 5 p.m. it had reportedly tripled in size.

Cal Fire's Howard Forest Station, which was handling incident command, reported the fire was about 120 acres with a moderate rate of spread at around 5:45 p.m. No structures were threatened at the time.

Efforts to fight the fire included attempting to hold it at a ridge top, fire officials said.

Exact numbers of the dozers, engines and firefighters on scene were not immediately available, but additional resources were being summoned after 6 p.m., including a Konocti Camp strike team, based on radio reports.

The CHP reported that Mill Creek Road at Cow Mountain Road was closed before 5 p.m. due to the fire.

One report from the scene indicated that the fire “will last for days.”

Lake County News will continue to follow the story.

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SACRAMENTO – The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reports that it is making progress in its effort to achieve accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. (CALEA).

CALEA’s Accreditation program improves the delivery of public safety services, and recognizes professional excellence.

“As the largest state police agency in the United States, and the fifth largest police organization in the nation, I am confident our operations will meet or exceed the high standards required by CALEA.”


said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Ultimately, accreditation will build upon the outstanding reputation we have in place, while complementing and reinforcing our organizational values.”

CALEA was created in 1979 as a law enforcement credentialing authority through the joint efforts of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).

The accreditation process includes five phases – enrollment, self-assessment, on-site assessment, commission review and decision, and maintaining compliance.

The CHP applied for CALEA accreditation and was formally accepted in the enrollment phase on Dec. 12, 2008.

On-site assessment will begin the week of Aug. 16, 2010, by a team of assessors from the CALEA who will travel to California to examine all aspects of CHP policies, procedures, management, operations and support services.

Verification by an assessment team from other states will ensure that the CHP meets the commission’s state-of-the-art standards is part of a voluntary process to gain accreditation – a highly prized recognition of public safety professional excellence.

Once accredited, the CHP will hold the distinction of being the largest accredited law enforcement agency in the nation.

As part of the on-site assessment, agency personnel and members of the public are invited to offer comments to the assessment team via telephone.

A public call-in period will take place on Aug. 17, 2010, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Members of the public wishing to comment may call 916-843-3325, during this time period.

Comments should be limited to the agency’s ability to comply with CALEA standards. A copy of the standards will be made available at the CHP Headquarters, 601 North 7th Street, Sacramento, CA 95811.

Persons wishing to offer written comments about the CHP’s ability to meet accreditation standards may write to CALEA, at 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainsville, VA 20155.

Once the CALEA assessors complete their review, they will report back to the full commission, which will then determine if the CHP is to be granted accredited status.

Accreditation is for three years, during which time the CHP must submit annual reports attesting continued compliance with those standards under which it was initially accredited.

For additional information regarding CALEA, please write to the commission at 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainsville, VA 20155, call 800-368-3757 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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