Wednesday, 24 July 2024


HOPLAND – The Mendocino County Sheriffs' Office is investigating a homicide in connection with a marijuana growing operation.

A report from sheriff's Lt. Tim Marsh said deputies responded to a remote area east of Hopland near the Lake/Mendocino county line at 2 a.m. Friday on the report of an alleged assault and battery.

When deputies arrived they located the assault victim lying on the ground in a marijuana garden, according to Marsh's report.

The victim was later pronounced dead by the fire department at the scene, he said.

Marsh said the preliminary investigation indicates that the victim was engaged in a argument with other persons over marijuana cultivation and water usage prior to his death.

The victim's name wasn't released Friday pending the notification of next of kin.

Marsh said the investigation is in the initial stages and continuing.

LAKE MENDOCINO – Lake Mendocino's fifth drowning of the year took place this week.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday divers recovered the body of a young man who had been reported missing two and a half hours earlier by the lake's south boat ramp, according to a Thursday report from Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Just after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday deputies responded to a call regarding a possible missing person, Smallcomb said.

Arriving at the scene, they learned that several persons were recreational swimming in the area just south of Lake Mendocino south boat ramp when one of their friends was seen struggling in the water, and then disappeared from sight. Smallcomb said the friends made several immediate attempts to locate the missing swimmer with negative results.

The Sheriff's Office Volunteer Search and Rescue Dive Team was called to the scene, Smallcomb said. Several members of the dive team's black water unit arrived within and hour and began to search.

At approximately 6 p.m. divers located the missing male in about 15 feet of water in the area where he was last seen swimming with friends, according to Smallcomb's report.

Foul play isn't believed to be involved, and drugs and alcohol do not seem to have contributed to the drowning, Smallcomb said.

Next of kin contact was pending on Thursday, said Smallcomb. Also on Thursday, an autopsy was scheduled.

Leona Butts of Clearlake Oaks captured this picture of the Oasis Fire's smoke column at 11 a.m. Tuesday, September 8, 2009, as she traveled along Highway 20 toward Yuba County. The fire is located in the Cache Creek Wilderness Area.

CACHE CREEK WILDERNESS – Tuesday proved a challenging day for firefighters battling a wildland fire in the Cache Creek Wilderness Area, as the blaze nearly doubled in size and jumped fire lines.

The Oasis Fire is located south of Highway 20 and six miles west of Highway 16 in Colusa County, according to Cal Fire.

Officials reported that the fire had grown to 1,200 acres with 30-percent containment. Full containment is expected Friday. The cause is still under investigation.

Stacie McCambridge of Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit, which is in charge of handling the fire, said one minor injury has been reported. In that case, a firefighter suffered a 2-inch by 1-inch burn to the face, and was being evaluated by a medic Tuesday evening. An abandoned trailer also burned in the fire.

The fire broke out Monday night and has been burning in steep terrain featuring brush, oak and grass, said Tammy Rossi of Cal Fire. She noted it's been a long time since that area burned.

On Tuesday, the battle from the air continued, with six helicopters and seven air tankers hitting the blaze with water and retardant drops, with a DC-10 also ordered, Rossi said.

In the afternoon, the fire jumped containment lines and went over Cache Creek, where it began burning on the creek's north side, according to reports from the scene.

Shortly before 7 p.m. reports indicated that firefighters were working on six hot spots, and that the fire had made several runs at the dozer line but the helicopters were able to knock it back.

Rossi said the fire was moving to the east toward Baldy Mountain, and was burning on Bureau of Land Management property, as well as land owned by the Payne Ranch, which also is the location of a firefighter camp.

Resources reported on scene late Tuesday included 680 Cal Fire personnel plus another 29 firefighters from local government agencies, BLM, Williams Fire and the California Department of Corrections.

In addition, there were 32 engines, 24 fire crews, five helicopters, 10 bull dozers, nine water tenders on scene.

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



Johnna Ornbaun of Williams sent this photograph of a view of the Oasis Fire's smoke cloud from the Sacramento Valley not long after the fire started on Monday, September 7, 2009. Her father, Brent Wiggin of Arbuckle, is on the fire lines running his dozer.

WILLOWS – The annual commemorations of a Northern California tribe's forced removal from its land will begin on Saturday and stretch through next week.

The removal of Indians from Chico to the Nome Cult Reservation in 1863 is one of the many forced relocations following the establishment of reservations in northern California in the 1850s.

On Saturday, the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico will sponsor a potluck gathering at 4:30 p.m. at Wildwood Park in Bidwell Park to commemorate the 146th anniversary of the Nome Cult Trail, which was the forced relocation of Indians from Chico across what is now the Mendocino National Forest to Round Valley in 1863.

The next week, Saturday, Sept. 19, in the afternoon, the Round Valley Indian Tribes will sponsor a gathering at the Round Valley Reservation in Covelo to mark the completion of the 14th annual retracing of the original 100-mile trek.

The theme for the walk and gatherings is “Honor Their Memory … A Path Not Forgotten.”

From Sept. 13 through 19, walkers will retrace the original trail, camping out each night along the way.

Descendants of Indians who took part in the original relocation and other supporters will walk from Chico to Covelo starting Sunday, Sept. 13, descending down into Round Valley on Sept. 19.

The walkers will begin at Bidwell River Road at 7 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 13. They will walk west on State Highway 32 and camp at the Buckhorn Campground at Black Butte Lake the first night.

For the remainder of the week they will walk across the Mendocino National Forest, following the Nome Cult Trail.

Their planned schedule is:

  • Monday, Sept. 14, Orland to Newville Cemetery, camp at Grindstone, Buckhorn Campground or Paskenta;

  • Tuesday, Sept. 15, Newville Cemetery to camp at Black Bear Campground;

  • Wednesday, Sept. 16, Black Bear Campground to camp at Log Springs;

  • Thursday, Sept. 17, Log Springs to camp at Wells Cabin;

  • Friday, September 18, Wells Cabin to camp at Eel River Ranger Station Saturday, September 19, walk into Round Valley.

Several different tribes were moved to the Nome Cult Reservation after it was established in Round Valley in 1856.

In September 1863, 461 Indians were marched under guard from Chico to the Nome Cult Reservation nearly 100 miles across the Sacramento Valley and rugged North Coast Ranges.

Only 277 Indians completed the journey. Some were killed, a few escaped and others were left behind, too sick to go on.

Although the path itself has disappeared, this route is now called the Nome Cult Trail. The most grueling part of the trail passed through what is now the Mendocino National Forest.

The Forest Service has placed interpretive signs along the route to mark places where the Indians and their military escorts camped.

A free brochure and trail map produced by the Forest Service is available from Mendocino National Forest offices for those interested in the route.

The Mendocino National Forest asks that people traveling on Forest roads along the trail route be aware of the event and careful of the walkers to ensure their safety.

For further information on the Sept. 12 Chico event, please contact Sandra Knight, Chico Mechoopda Tribe, at 530-899-8922, Extension 213.

For further information on the walk and the Sept. 19 Covelo event, please contact Albert Azbill, Round Valley Indian Tribes at 707-983-6126, Extension 11.

A REACH helicopter takes off from Upper Lake County Park at around 5:30 p.m. following a crash a short time earlier on Wednesday, September 9, 2009. Photo by Mike Smith.


NORTHSHORE – The Northshore's stretch of Highway 20 saw two serious crashes on Wednesday afternoon.

The crashes occurred near Nice and Upper Lake, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The first crash occurred around 1:45 p.m. near Ceago Vinegarden, outside of Nice and west of Lucerne.

Two vehicles were involved – an older model silver Ford Ranger and a green Ford Taurus. Reports from the scene explained that the pickup had put on its brakes quickly and the Taurus hit the back of it.

The highway's westbound lane was closed for about 45 minutes as Northshore Fire personnel and CHP responded to the scene.

Major injuries resulted, with a helicopter landing nearby to transport the injured. But CHP and Northshore officials were unavailable to give further detail late Wednesday, in part because they were shortly on their way to another crash scene.

The second crash occurred shortly before 4:45 p.m. near Upper Lake. Reports indicated a vehicle pulled out in front of a Dodge pickup towing a travel trailer.

A helicopter was once again summoned to transported injured from the crash.

Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins had to have players leave the soccer field at the nearby county park so the helicopter could land.

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

LAKEPORT – The annual Lake County Fair came to a close at 11 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6, after four great days of fun and excitement at the fairgrounds in Lakeport.

“We had incredibly good weather, lots of great activities and fantastic support from throughout Lake County,” said fair Chief Executive Officer Richard Persons. “Everyone had a good time and we got lots of very positive comments. The staff and volunteers are all tired, but planning has already started for another great run in 2010.”

Persons said they're still crunching the numbers, but it appears the fair was about even in total gate revenues and up in other areas, like the carnival and food sales.

He said preliminary carnival numbers indicated an increase of nearly 12 percent in ride revenues, largely driven by the free hour of admission offered on Friday evening.

“That one free hour brought in 3,087 people, and admission ticket sales the rest of the night were nearly average for a Friday, so everything else on the fairgrounds benefited from that bump in attendance,” he said. “Saturday saw nearly a 10-percent jump in ticket sales at the gate.”

The Lake County Fair does not release specific gate attendance figures, but Persons explained that he expected the final total attendance numbers to be up slightly, with many people taking advantage of discounted tickets that were available in the weeks prior to the event.


Once again, the junior livestock program was a main attraction for fairgoers, with the number of animals entered in the 4-H and FFA contests about even with 2008, he said.

Persons said there was a shift from the market animal contests into the breeding animal contests, which Persons said is good for the long-term health of the programs.

“Breeding animal projects require a longer term, more intensive commitment from the kids, which in turn encourages more involvement from their siblings and friends, and all of that leads to better knowledge and understanding of animal husbandry and agriculture in general,” said Persons.


Other animal attractions included miniature farm animals provided by Oops Ranch, an open goat show, and draft horse wagon rides from Eleven Roses Ranch.


This year's attractions in the main grandstand included an invitational sheep dog trials, the traditional demolition derby, mud bog races and the California State Finals of the WGAS Tuff Truck Races. The main grandstand arena was sponsored by Robinson Rancheria Resort and Casino.

“The motorized entertainment continues to pack the seats at Lake County Fair,” said Persons, adding “the sheep dog trials struggled to find an audience, which is too bad really. It's a fascinating and intense sport, and we'll be discussing the possibility of 2010 show, but it'll take some more intensive promotion if we go that way again.”

Local acts and attractions were the rule at the 2009 Lake County Fair, he said.

Entertainment on the Theatre Main Stage included local acts like the Hip Replacements, Side of Blues, the Mark Weston Band, Bill Noteman and the Rockets, the Bottle Rock Blues and Rhythm Band, and the Lake County Amateur Talent Competition.

The Enhance H2O Stage hosted Mike Wilhelm and Jim Williams playing solo guitar, the Carter and Chambers Duo, and the Kustom Cuts playing rockabilly.

Special appearances by magician Ken Garr, and Mickey the Clown were complemented by the performances by Chaz Marquette the juggling unicyclist.


“We want to thank all of the fairgoers, participants and sponsors of this year’s event,” said fair board president Janeane Bogner of Clearlake Oaks. “This event is truly a celebration of life in Lake County, and it takes participation from everyone to make it a success.”

CACHE CREEK WILDERNESS AREA – A fire that has burned this week in wilderness areas in Lake and Colusa counties is expected to be fully contained on Friday.

The Oasis Fire, which broke out on Monday, has burned 1,400 acres on Bureau of Land Management land in the Cache Creek Wilderness Area and in the Northshore Fire Protection District. It's located south of Highway 20 and six miles west of Highway 16.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Cal Fire report suppression costs to date have totaled $2.4 million.

Late Thursday the fire was reported to be 80-percent contained. Cal Fire officials said containment efforts, along with and mop up and patrol of the fire, are continuing.

Air tankers and helicopters, as well as bulldozers, have played a major role in the fire suppression effort this week, as road access to the fire area was limited, according to reports from the scene.

On Thursday evening, reports indicated that the remaining aircraft that were being used to fight the fire would be released on Friday morning.

Resources from Cal Fire, Northshore Fire, Williams Fire Department, BLM and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation totaled 1,114 firefighters – of which 1,059 were with Cal Fire – and 40 engines, 43 fire crews, eight helicopters, 15 bulldozers and 14 water tenders.

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


CACHE CREEK WILDERNESS – By day's end on Wednesday a fire on Bureau of Management Land in the Cache Creek Wilderness Area had burned an estimated 1,400 acres.

The Oasis Fire moved into its second full day on Wednesday, with approximately 1,114 firefighters – 1,059 of them with Cal Fire – on the ground trying to knock the fire out.

The fire, which broke out Monday evening, is located south of Highway 20 and six miles west of Highway 16.

It's located both in Lake and Colusa counties, burning on federal land and in the Northshore Fire Protection District, according to Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown.

The Oasis Fire reached 55-percent containment Wednesday, with 75-percent containment reported Thursday morning. Cal Fire said it's expected to be fully contained on Friday.

The cause is still under investigation, officials reported.

Three injuries have been reported so far, according to Cal Fire.

Since it began the fire, which is burning in oak and brush on steep terrain, has jumped fire lines and even Cache Creek itself. On Wednesday afternoon, it jumped a retardant line.

Firefighters had to deal with hot, dry conditions on Wednesday, according to Nancy Carniglia of Cal Fire.

Road access to the area where the fire is burning is limited, so bulldozers, air tankers and helicopters have played an important in the fight.

Cal Fire reported that 15 bulldozers are being used to get access for ground crews, while several air tankers and eight helicopters continued water and retardant drops.

On Wednesday air tankers were being brought in from around Northern California, including McClellan Air Force Base near Sacramento, according to reports from the fire scene.

Resources on scene Tuesday included 40 engines, 43 fire crews and 14 water tenders.

Brown, who is working with Cal Fire as an agency representative and medical unit leader, said Northshore Fire resources include one engine from Lucerne and a water tender from Clearlake Oaks, as well as a medic rig that is staffing the fire's base and another medic rig that is transporting injuries out of the Oaks station.

In addition to Northshore Fire and Cal Fire, cooperating agencies include Williams Fire Department, BLM, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and California Highway Patrol.

Costs to fight the fire have been estimated at $1.7 million so far, Cal Fire reported.

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

CACHE CREEK WILDERNESS – A wildland fire that broke out Monday night was reported to have grown to 700 acres by Tuesday and was jumping fire lines.

The Oasis Fire, reported just after 6 p.m. Monday, is located near Highway 20 six miles west of Highway 16 in the Cache Creek Wilderness Area in Colusa County, according to Cal Fire.

The 700-acre fire was reported to be 15 percent contained, Cal Fire said Tuesday afternoon.

But reports from the scene Tuesday indicated that firefighters were having challenges, as the fire began to make runs in the morning that resulted in it jumping from the south side to the north side of Cache Creek and escaping containment lines.

Aircraft were being called in from Redding and Ukiah to help fight the blaze, officials reported.

At about 1:30 p.m. reports from the scene indicated that the fire was “progressing aggressively” on the south side of Cache Creek.

Cal Fire was requesting a California Highway Patrol reconnaissance flight to help with the effort, but availability was an issue, so other local government agencies with aircraft were being sought.

More updates on the situation will be posted as information becomes available.

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

LAKE COUNTY – Due to a strong high pressure system over Northern California, the National Weather Service in Sacramento has issued a hazardous weather outlook warning for Lake County and much of Northern California for Friday.

Clouds overnight Wednesday helped to mitigate overnight lows. Daytime temperatures rose higher on Thursday, and will continue throughout the day Friday, the National Weather Service in Sacramento (NWS) predicted.

The NWS has issued both a hazardous weather outlook and a special weather statement for Lake County Friday, with high temperatures close to the century mark.

A strong ridge of high pressure, which is resulting in higher-than-average temperatures, will reach a crescendo today with highs in the upper-90s to near 100 degrees, according to the NWS.

Temperatures in the Central Valley and Sierra Foothills may break records for this date later Friday, the NWS predicted.

Relief from the daytime temperatures should come as the high pressure system moves out on Saturday and temperatures return closer to average, the NWS stated, with highs in the mid-80s.

By Sunday, decreasing daytime temperatures will continue, with The Weather Channel forecasting a chance of rain.

Overnight temperatures will only drop down to the 60s Friday and tomorrow, with lows reaching near 50 by Sunday morning according to the NWS.

High daytime temperatures on Sunday will be much lower, only reaching in to the mid-70s according to the NWS.

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

CACHE CREEK WILDERNESS AREA – Officials say a wildland fire in the Cache Creek Wilderness Area burned more acreage on Wednesday morning.

The Oasis Fire, which started Monday evening south of Highway 20 and six miles west of Highway 16, was reported to have burned 1,350 acres by midday Wednesday, according to Cal Fire. The cause is under investigation.

The fire currently is at 40-percent containment, with Cal Fire officials estimating full containment on Friday.

On Wednesday morning, six air tankers and five helicopters were making drops on the fire, said Nancy Carniglia with Cal Fire.

That air contingent was small compared to the nearly 1,100 firefighters on the ground, Carniglia said.

Moderate wind conditions weren't causing issues for firefighters on Wednesday, but Carniglia said weather conditions were expected to be hot and dry – with temperatures in the high 90s and low humidity.

Because there are no established roads in the fire area, bulldozers have played a big part in fighting the fire. In addition to building new fire lines, Cal Fire reported the dozers are reopening old dozer lines and improving them to allow vehicles access.

On scene Wednesday were 50 engines, 41 fire crews, five helicopters, 15 dozers and 13 water tenders, according to Cal Fire.

The costs for suppression to date are approximately $461,965, Cal Fire said.

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



LAKE COUNTY – The Labor Day weekend saw several sizable earthquakes occur around the county.

Before the weekend even got started, a 3.7-magnitude quake was reported in The Geysers area at 3:20 a.m. Friday, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's earthquake array.

Then, on Saturday, The Geysers saw two quakes measuring 3.0 in magnitude within eight seconds of each other.

The first 3.0 quake, which occurred at 1:48 a.m. at a depth of 1.6 miles, was centered one mile west of Anderson Springs, four miles south of Cobb and five miles east southeast of The Geysers, according to the US Geological Survey.

The 3.0 quake that followed it seconds later was measured at a depth of 0.6 of a mile and was centered in the exact same area one mile west of Anderson Springs, the US Geological Survey reported.

While no shake reports were made to the survey regarding the first quake, they received numerous reports on the second, with reports coming from Middletown, Covelo, Santa Rosa and Eureka to as far away as Santa Clara and Palmdale, the latter over 600 miles away.

Then, on Monday the US Geological Survey reported a 3.2-magnitude quake occurred near Lake Pillsbury at 1:22 a.m.

That quake, at a depth of 6.6 miles, was centered three miles east southeast of Lake Pillsbury, 16 miles north of Upper Lake and 19 miles north of Nice, the survey reported.

Only one shake report was received on the Pillsbury quake – it came from the San Francisco area, according to US Geological Survey records.

The last series of quakes to hit the county measuring 3.0 or above occurred early in July, when The Geysers area experienced five such quakes in just a few weeks, as Lake County News reported earlier this summer.

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

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