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The LNU Lightning Complex fire which is straddling several counties including Lake has grown by nearly 3,000 acres. The fire ignited by lightning Aug. 17th is at just under 353,000 acres and is 27-percent containment. The complex incident manager says the fire is, so far, the second-largest wildfire complex in recorded state history, behind the Mendocino Complex of 2018 that burned thru Lake, Mendocino, Colusa and Glenn counties. Incident Commander Shawn Kavanaugh says the fire has destroyed more than 900 structures… 

30,000 structures are still threatened. They are depending on air support since the fire is burning in rugged terrain. The LNU Complex is reportedly burning on the Rocky and Jerusalem fire scars.

The August Complex in the Mendocino National Forest’s Grindstone and Upper Lake ranger districts has also burned a significant swath of land. Cal Fire reports the fire at over 181,050 acres and is 11 percent contained. The US Forest Service reports 10 structures have been destroyed. There’s an evacuation warning for the Pillsbury Ranch area still in effect. The Forest Service reports the fire was made up of 37 different fires all lightning started last Monday, many contained or merged to become larger fires.

The Sheriff Matt Kendall says he’s working with state Senator Mike McGuire to get reliable and consistent cell service for Covelo and its surrounding area. Sheriff Kendall says there are many issues the two are working on together, but this is at the top of his priority list. The Sheriff says he’s working with McGuire and Supervisor Haschak to resolve the cell service issue as quickly as possible. He says it’s critical as fewer and fewer people have landlines and especially critical in more remote areas of the county, adding the biggest concern is for folks to be able to reach a 911 operator in times of crisis.

Firefighters getting some support after fighting for nearly a week with barely a break. More than 500 fires ignited after that lightning storm a week ago, including more than 60 in Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Solano and Yolo counties. The Sonoma County Fire District Chief says some of his crew worked three days straight without stopping. Officials with Cal Fire say others pulled 96 straight hours after the Meyers and Walbridge fires broke out. They’re part of the LNU Lightning Complex. More than 14,000 firefighters and other personnel on fires after those thunderstorms August 15th. There’s fewer available because of the pandemic. Inmate firefighters no longer available as they’ve been released from prison to slow the spread.

Cal Fire was expecting more lightning strikes to hit Northern Calif. but they mostly hit other parts of the state.  Part of the LNU Complex is nearly contained, the 2,360-acre Meyers fire along the Sonoma Coast. Incident commander Shawn Kavanaugh says they have a good plan in place, but that it’s a very large fire and weather and more could hamper their efforts.  

Another issue of concern in Sonoma County, the pandemic could spread during the wildfires and thousands have to leave their homes. Shelters for evacuees are limited with residents in W. Sonoma County displaced due to the Walbridge fire. The public health officer says the virus will spread as people are in constant contact with people outside their immediate households. Dr. Sundari Mase says the county’s still struggling to slow the virus and that it will likely be spread by those who are asymptomatic. Sonoma County’s testing results at more than 10% positivity, about twice as much as the state’s latest infection rate.

The unemployment department’s reportedly not answering a majority of calls coming in as the agency’s still dealing with a backlog of claims. The Press Democrat reports the Employment Development Dept. Director spoke in front of lawmakers yesterday as the agency has more than a million pending claims since the pandemic first surfaced in March. Department Director Sharon Hilliard says they should have 3,700 people working in the call center by January, instead of the 350 they had before the pandemic hit. She says they were caught unprepared for the massive surge in unemployment claims and says they can only answer about 54% of calls they’re getting.

Since the president has declared areas hit by wildfires federal disasters, that means individuals, families and businesses can apply for disaster assistance. Pres. Trump approved the declaration over the weekend so those hit in Sonoma, Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Monterey and Yolo counties can apply for federal grants. It’s to help the uninsured or underinsured with property or business losses and other disaster-related costs, repairs, funeral or medical expenses.

New reports of deferrals for Calif. college entrants. The Cal State University system is allowing entering students to defer enrollments due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some students are delaying for an entire term to delay online school or others are going to local community colleges outside California. International students are reported to be the main group getting the deferrals. This is also the first year the university system has allowed deferrals or delays for a semester. Each campus decides if they’ll allow the deferrals. Students who’ve requested the deferrals across the CSU and University of California campuses is said to be a small number when you compare it to the thousands who have decided to continue their enrollment.

Homeless Housing and help and prevention for homelessness is being offered by the Lake County Continuum of Care. The Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention Program available with grant money to help address immediate homelessness challenges in Lake County. The money to be spent to move those who are currently homeless into permanent housing and ensure they are able to stay in that as permanent housing. There’s about $440,000 to use for this project. Interested agencies are encouraged to apply for collaborations. You must be a nonprofit, government or Tribal organization serving the homeless or those at‐risk of becoming homeless in Lake County. The deadline is Sept. 25th.

More favorable weather has helped firefighters across the state. But Cal Fire says there are still more than 14,000 firefighters on more than two dozen major fires and lightning complexes across California. Weather conditions were more favorable last night, but there were more than 200 recorded lightning strikes across the state. Firefighters are still monitoring for more lightning strike wildfires and the possibility of more lightning today. Since Saturday, August 15th, there’s been more than 13,000 lightning strikes, with over 230 new strikes in the last day. And with that more than 650 new wildfires, which have now burned over 1.25 million acres. That’s larger than the State of Delaware. And a new Red Flag Warning has been issued because there’s a possibility of lightning with little to no rain.

Things are looking up in California’s fight to slow the spread of coronavirus. The Gov. said he’s going to announce the reopening of some businesses that had to close again two months ago when the virus made another run. The announcement during a press conference on the massive wildfires that have broken out across the state. More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed and 7 people have died. The Gov. says it’s a difficult period, fighting both the pandemic and the wildfires up and down the state. He says more than 100,000 people are being tested for COVID-19 every day, but the fires have made that more of a challenge. The infection rate is now at 5.6%, the target was 8%. Some larger counties that had been on the state’s monitoring list including Orange and San Diego have been removed. Hospitalizations are down by almost a half and the average number of deaths has also dropped.

A man arrested in Ukiah for assaulting someone with a knife has been convicted. The Mendocino County DA reports the jury returned this morning with the guilty verdict against Joseph Hart, most recently of the Laytonville area. He also admitted a sentencing enhancement, an out of state strike offense, robbery. That means he would be ineligible for probation and will be sentenced to prison with his earliest release after spending 80% of whatever his sentence is. His case was referred for sentencing to the probation department. He faces 4-8 years behind bars and is currently held without bail.

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