Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: September 2020

The Glass Fire in Napa Valley out of control evacuating entire communities. The Press Democrat reports Angwin, for the second time in a month, and the entire city of Calistoga. This is also an economically important time of year for Wine Country, tourism and the harvest. Evacuations were expanded last night to cover mountainous and canyon regions in Calistoga west of Highway 29 and along Highway 128 to the Napa-Sonoma county line. A CAL FIRE spokesperson said residents were in imminent danger. The fire burning where so many others have burned in the last three years, the Tubbs, Nuns and Atlas fires which killed more than 30 people and destroyed more than 7,700 structures in Sonoma and Napa counties. We also have the LNU Lightning Complex which is still burning after first starting the middle of August and is 98% contained.

The state attorney general is suing the Trump administration to outlaw “ghost guns” which cannot be traced. The do it yourself manufactured weapons are not illegal federally so buyers don’t have to have background checks. But the Attorney General Xavier Becerra is asking a federal judge in San Francisco to get a change in the federal government’s policy on ghost guns saying it’s a violation of the common definition of a firearm under federal law. There are two plaintiff’s who have signed on with the state who lost their teenage children at a shooting at a Southern Calif. school.

The Governor has signed a bill into law to help those who’ve lost their home in a wildfire. The bill penned by North Coast Assemblyman Jim Wood will stop insurance companies from deducting the land value of an insured property if the homeowner decides to rebuild or replace their home in a different location. Wood says it’s understandable someone would want to leave the location of their burned out home. The new law, which goes into effect next year, would also give more living expenses to a fire victim if they can’t live in their home or it’s got insufficient infrastructure. And it gives more to replacing the insides of a home so they can immediately buy needed essentials.

Congressman Mike Thompson along with members in Oregon and Iowa are introducing a Disaster package. Thompson is the Chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. He’s introduced the Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 along with Congressman Earl Blumenauer or Oregon and Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer. Thompson says the bill will help survivors of natural disasters, not the pandemic. He says right now his district is in the middle of a devastating fire, destroying homes and businesses, and leaving communities to deal with another round of anxiety and grief. The same for the Oregon rep who’s district is also dealing with massive wildfires. Iowa suffered after a windstorm last month.

The August Complex wildfire continues to burn out of control, adding tens of thousands more acres the last 24 hours and still under 45% contained. The entire fire, which has been split into 3 management zones, has burned nearly 940,000 acres, growing almost 60,000 more acres from the day before. It’s continuing to burn on the Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests. CAL FIRE and the US Forest Service are jointly managing the massive inferno, along with the Calif. National Guard and firefighters from across the country. Last night they added more than 1,600 more firefighters to the Complex. The South Zone burning near the Lake Pillsbury area and the Yolla Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness.

Lake County getting millions from the state like many other counties as part of project Homekey to help with homelessness, or for those at risk of becoming homeless. In Mendocino County, supervisors purchased a motel in Ukiah with their money. In Lake, the county received $3.3 million. Lake Co News reports the county’s Dept. of Social Services is partnering with Adventist Health Clear Lake to work with the nonprofit Hope Rising Lake County to operate Hope Center in Clearlake. Hope Center is running a 20-bed interim housing facility and working to find more housing and helping those at risk of losing their shelter, but who are not utilizing the services at Hope Center.

Smoke from area fires impacting Lake and Mendocino counties. The Grass Fire in Napa and Sonoma Counties along with many other fires in the state and nearby in Oregon are causing unhealthy air quality. The Air Quality Management Districts in each county have put out statements warning areas will be “UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS” to “UNHEALTHY” through tomorrow. But wind conditions could push smoke out of each county too. Smoke concentrations vary depending on location, weather, and distance from a fire. Smoke and ash from wildfires and structure fires have harmful chemicals that can affect your health.

The Mendocino Registrar of Voters office says they’re mailing ballots out Monday to all registered voters. Assessor Clerk Recorder, Registrar of Voters, Katrina Bartolomie put out a statement yesterday after getting a lot of questions about signatures. Two questions they get asked frequently, do you have to sign your mail ballot return envelope exactly as you registered; and what to do if your signature has changed? She says if you think signature has changed a lot, you should re-register. And as for the ballot envelope, you could sign your full name or variation of it as long as the signature style is the same, they will accept the signed ballot envelope.

Ukiah is going to the goats… due to a shortage in inmate crews due to the pandemic, the city’s considering getting goats out to chomp grass and weeds on the Rail Trail and other areas. The Daily Journal reports City Council member Maureen Mulheren came up with the idea to hire the Gonzalez Brush Busters. The company brings goats over to clear vegetation. It would cost the city around $700 per acre and they want to clear just over 100. So a herd of 230 goats and five guardian dogs would come to the city if approved by the City Council. The newspaper reports the contract will be discussed at a special meeting of the council today at 4 pm.

Mendocino College says they’re starting a public lecture series on social and community challenges. The lectures for students and the community at large focusing on relevance and community connection. The college is offering the lectures on Zoom, starting next Tuesday and continuing every first Tuesday of the month. They are taking December and January off, the first lecture, October 6th will be led by a Political Science instructor  called “Thumb on the Scale: Using Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression to Rig Elections”. The topic on how congressional districts are drawn and how politicians enact voting laws to benefit their own party but undermine democracy.


The Yolo County Board of Supervisors is starting a climate advisory committee after declaring a climate emergency. The Climate Mobilization Project reports 1,783 local governments in 30 countries have declared these emergencies. Mothers Out Front, a group in Woodland says we have to get off fossil fuels before it’s too late as the board of supervisors put the county putting its money where its mouth is, $50,000 in county funds to support the advisory committee. A press release put out by the county says the all volunteer, Yolo County Climate Emergency Coalition will help the county put together a policy statement. The coalition first approached the board back in March.

Reports of a burglary in Ukiah yields no arrest or suspect. Apparently a homeowner called the Sheriff’s Office saying they remotely witnessed the ripoff on their home security camera system, seeing two suspects force entry into their home. The homeowner says at the time, a 13 year old was there alone, but hid from the intruders. Deputies got there 12 minutes after the first contact with the homeowner, who also got home quick. No suspects were found. Deputies say the thieves took more than $50,000.00 cash and some processed/packaged marijuana.

A fire weather watch in effect for the North Bay hills now upgraded to a red flag warning. The change in the forecast for tomorrow starting at 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. Friday. The National Weather Service says there could be gusts of 25-30 mph in higher elevations, along with dry conditions and expected low humidity. There are added evacuation warnings for the Glass Fire in Napa County, the fire has burned over 48,000 acres in 3 days and is burning along scars of 3 other fires that blackened the land just 3 years ago. The fire is only 2% contained. On Monday 68,000 people were evacuated, 14,000 are still out of their homes. The Sonoma County Fire Dept. also reports a flare up in the LNU Complex – Walbridge Fire, but it was put down fast.

A missing boater from New Jersey who got lost on Lake Tahoe has been found. Ryan Normoyle had rented a ski boat in August. It washed ashore on the Nevada side of the lake Aug. 10th. He had apparently recorded himself jumping into the water with the boat still in gear, pulling him. Officials say he couldn’t swim fast enough to catch up to the vessel and drowned. They couldn’t find his body at the time, but his family contacted a nonprofit specializing in underwater recovery called Bruce’s Legacy. They found the body last Thursday 1,565 feet underwater and brought him up Saturday. Bruce’s Legacy says it’s the deepest body recovery ever recorded in the United States and Canada.

Coronavirus restrictions are easing in the majority of California counties as there are small signs of a possible surge again. The Press Democrat reports seven counties were upgraded from the purple tier, the most restrictive so they can reopen restaurants, churches, gyms and movie theaters.

Two firefighters on the Glass fire in Napa County had to deploy fire shelter tents due to giant flames. CAL FIRE reports the two were not injured after jumping inside the “aluminized cloth tents”. The fire has blackened 48,440 acres and is 2% contained.

A new management team has taken over the South Zone of the August Complex. The fire’s burned more than 949,000 acres with 47% containment. Crews continue to mop up, check control lines and enhancing structure protection in the Lake Pillsbury area. It’s burning in Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Mendocino, Tehama and Trinity Counties
Elk Creek and Stonyford area (Mendocino National Forest)
*949,055 acres, 47% contained
*South Zone 489,151 acres, 70% contained
*North Zone 341,488 acres, 37% contained
*West Zone 118,416 acres, 65% contained
*1 fatality
*86 structures destroyed
*Includes multiple fires including the Elkhorn, Hopkins, Willow, Vinegar, and Doe fires


WHAT:     Mendocino County – Evacuation Order for Zone E.1

WHEN:     Effective Immediately

WHERE:   ORDER Area of Mendocino County:

Zone E.1: North of Mendocino Pass Road (FH7), east of the Middle Fork of the Eel River, south of Bar Creek, west of Nebo Rock (to include Bauer Subdivision).


FH7 (Mendocino Pass Road) and M1 (Indian Dick Road) at Eel River


The public is reminded to stay vigilant on current fire conditions. Please continue to adhere to road closures and any Evacuation Warnings and Evacuation Orders. Please remember to drive slowly and yield to emergency personnel in the area. There may still be smoke in the respective areas as firefighters continue their suppression operations.

The Mendocino National Forest will remain closed, for updated forest closures, visit:

View the most current evacuation map at:

For more information about wildfire preparedness visit:

Another giant fire in Santa Rosa. The Glass fire burns in the scars of the Tubbs and Nuns Fires from 2017 across the Mayacamas Mountains into Sonoma County into residential neighborhoods that have been through this before. The fire started east of Napa Valley between Calistoga and St. Helena over the weekend and dry weather and fuels exploded in red flag weather conditions. It was at more than 36,230 acres last night, mostly uncontained. Cal Fire reported over 100 structures already destroyed in Napa and Sonoma counties, and more than 8,500 more were threatened. There were over 68,000 people evacuated and 30,000 more warned.

The Gov. has once again issued a state of emergency proclamation, this time for two wildfires in Northern California, including the Glass fire in Sonoma and Napa counties. It also covers the recently started Zogg fire burning in Shasta County. The Gov. also sent a letter to the President requesting a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration, which would bring federal assistance to the state and local governments. The request covers fires that are also currently burning in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego and Siskiyou counties.

During the ferocious firefight in Santa Rosa, a senior living community was spared. Almost 5,000 people live at the Oakmont Village community which was the scene of an evacuation in 2017 too. Cars stuck on narrow, Highway 12 trying to escape wildfires once again. The Glass Fire surrounding Oakmont on 3 sides, but firefighters got a handle on the massive flames, sparing the community, except for one triplex and two homes. Some of the homes in the community had just been rebuilt after the 2017 wildfires that took thousands of homes. Firefighters went house to house putting out spot fires as embers flew in the wind.

A man the sheriff’s office was looking for has been caught by a police dog. Deputies went to a home in the 26000 block of Sherwood Road in Willits Saturday night on a warrant to arrest Kevin Pike who they say took off on their arrival. He was wanted for violating his Parole.  Deputies say they found him in the back of his house, then he started to run down a hill when he saw them. The police dog Ruddick nabbed him and he surrendered after without incident. He was taken to jail and booked for violation of parole and held in lieu of $25,000.00 bail.

Lake County is spared so far moving into the Purple Tier. The Public Health Office put out the word last night that it’s been postponed at least for a week after the county has some outbreaks at senior living facilities and businesses. There have been 559 cases confirmed with 20 new ones since the weekend. That’s about 16 cases/100,000 residents for a couple weeks ago, which should have landed the county in Purple. Right now the positivity is 7.8%, so that’s at the top edge of the Red Tier. Some of the cases were associated with one outbreak so the state agreed to grant the county a week to see if the case rate stays high or wanes again. Dr. Pace says the data for the last week is trickling in and it does look so far like the county will be in the Purple, most restrictive Tier. He says business owners are encouraged to plan for this.

The Mendocino County Sheriff distressed about wildfires and the mounting crime along with the pandemic, says it’s time to step up enforcement. The Sheriff put out a statement yesterday about the armed robbery that occurred Sunday in Willits, the wildfires being the worst in recorded history and now he says he’s had reports of fire personnel threatened, intimidated and ordered by illegal marijuana growers to water their plants. Sheriff Kendall also reports water being taken illegally which causes a problem for fire suppression. But more concerned he says about info he received that criminals were planning to kill deputies if they were caught Sunday. He says the marijuana trade is not victimless and that he gets countless calls about it from residents. He says he supports the legal market, but not illegal dealers, who must be dealt with. He’s asking residents to help him get more staff by chiming in with the board of supervisors.

Both the Mendocino and Lake County Offices of Education are looking for teachers. They’re having several Zoom sessions to talk with those who may be interested. The info is noted on the Eventbrite site for the meetings next week and the two weeks after. They’re offering a two year intern program, then interns get work as teachers as they attend classes. They also get mentoring, coaching and supervisors. The counties are working with the North Coast School of Education who develops teachers and school leaders using innovative methods and ideas in the classroom and schools to get kids interested in going all the way to college.  For additional information, contact Deni Dillsaver via email at

More information has been released about that armed robbery over the weekend in Willits. We already knew about one suspect who was caught and named, Jesus Estevan Vargas Jr., was busted after being chased in a Toyota Tacoma. He’s charged with robbery, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy and held on $2,500,000.00 bail. He and two others were accused of wearing body armor, having assault rifles and threatening people, one of whom was reportedly shot as they tried to get away. We have the name of a second suspect who was driving a Chevy Tahoe, charged with the same as Vargas and held on the same amount of bail was Roy Ha. A third suspect shot himself in the head during the chase with police. He was flown to an out of county hospital and is said to be alive. His name has not yet been released.

The August Fire mostly still burning out of control in the Mendocino National Forest, Trinity and Humboldt Forests is over 902,000 acres. The fire is still only 45% contained. The Forest Service and CAL FIRE working together on the Complex which is three zones.  There are National Guard troops and soldiers from Washington along with firefighters from out of state continuing to work on the fire. There are too many evacuation zones to list. Yesterday we had more orders and warnings in Mendocino County. The West Zone of the fire has burned more than 111,000 acres and 65% contained. It covers about 195 miles of fire line.  


A fire burning in Shasta County has killed 3 people. The Zogg Fire is part of the state of emergency declared by the Governor. The fire’s burning southwest of Redding and has blackened over 40,300 acres, it’s 0% contained. There are evacuation orders in place. 146 structures have been destroyed. The Glass Fire hopped from Napa to Sonoma County yesterday and is burning 4 miles east of Calistoga. It’s burning in scars left by the 2017 Nuns and Tubbs fires, and in between on fresh fuel. It’s charred 42,560 acres and is also 0% contained. There are also evacuation orders in effect and more have begun for others who were warned they might need to leave. We continue to monitor the massive August fire which keeps chomping away at more and more acreage. From yesterday to today, we’ve recorded over 35 thousand acres of growth. The fire remains only 43% contained. The fire is broken up as such, the South Zone is getting close to 490,000 acres, it’s 70% contained; the North Zone has burned over 332,300 acres, it’s 49% contained; and the West Zone has burned nearly 117,000 acres and is 65% contained. One firefighter died early on in the fight. She was based out of Texas. The August Complex has destroyed 86 structures and threatens hundreds more.

Mendocino Transit Authority says it’s picking up its service again to Sonoma County, but it’ll be a reduced schedule. The CC Rider, Route #65, is going once a day, Monday through Saturday, from Mendocino and Fort Bragg to Santa Rosa. And Route #95 will also go once a day, but, Monday through Friday, from Point Arena to Santa Rosa. The service will start again on Monday, Oct. 12 with coronavirus safety protocols in place. You will need to wear a face mask and practice social distancing. All MTA vehicles are equipped with hand sanitizer and the company says it will be sanitizing and disinfecting buses every day. For more info, or the Mendocino Transit Authority Facebook page for all service updates and changes.

Kelp restoration work continues in Noyo Bay. Last month several commercial red sea urchin divers started to remove kelp-eating purple urchins. Since the beginning of last month, they’ve cleared about six acres of reef, pulling out more than of 21,000 pounds of purple urchin. The nonprofit Reef Check California is leading the effort and says there’s new growth of Kelp in Noyo Bay. The project was supposed to start sooner, but the pandemic delayed it a bit. The project managers say there were great ocean conditions so it didn’t really affect the work much.

A deaf man accused of murdering a friend he was supposedly traveling with to Calif. to start a deaf camp will be finally going to trial. Court papers say Mavrick Fisher’s case goes to jury trial Oct. 21st. Fisher’s charged with murder, assault with a deadly weapon (that is not a firearm with great bodily injury likely) and grand theft of a firearm related to the death of his friend Grant Whitaker of Mackinaw, IL. His body found on a remote Scotts Valley property. The trial was supposed to start tomorrow but that was delayed, after several other attempts. The trial should last three weeks.

Power was back on for thousands of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers who were part of the latest public safety power shutoffs due to red flag weather. The energy company says they turned off power to 65,000 customers in 15 counties including Lake, but not Mendocino County Sunday. There were still several hundred in the dark last night. Only 55 people lost their power in Lake County. 2 were medical baseline customers.  It all started early Sunday morning, those in Lake were near the county line with Napa south of Middletown. But they had an all clear yesterday morning. The utility reported no damage to infrastructure or hazards to any electrical equipment in our region. Wind gusts of up to 73 miles an hour were recorded on the Mt. St. Helena West weather station in Sonoma County and 72 miles per hour at Jarbo Gap in Butte County.

3 people in trouble with the law after someone told CAL FIRE officers they had been robbed at gunpoint. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s office got a call yesterday morning to an area on Highway 162 approximately .5 miles from the intersection of the 101. The victim said there were 3-4 armed suspects, with assault weapon style rifles and dressed in body armor who took off in a black Chevy Tahoe and a gray Toyota Tacoma. A Sergeant on routine patrol on Highway 20 east of Potter Valley saw the two vehicles and took chase after the Tahoe which went onto a dirt road. The Sergeant stopped chasing as a deputy stopped the Tacoma. The driver was arrested, Jesus Estevan Vargas Jr. for armed robbery. Shots were heard where the Tahoe had stopped, two victims tied up, one shot as they tried to run, and the remaining two suspects were finally taken down with the help of a SWAT team. One suspect shot himself in the head and was flown to an out of county hospital for treatment. The investigation continues with several charges for the 3 arrested. The Sheriff’s office working with CALFIRE, the CHP, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, Ukiah Police and the Potter Valley Fire Department.

The August Fire is getting up near 900,000 acres and remains the largest fire to ever burn in the state. The fire has 3 zones, and is 43% contained. So far 86 structures have been destroyed. For weeks another 1,595 have been threatened. The Forest Service reported critical fire conditions yesterday with extremely hot and dry weather which is expected to hang around for several days. The fire is moving slowly though, but that could change with the fire weather. Firefighters have been working in the Lake Pillsbury area and other critical areas for days and report being ready for potential fire spread and firelines to be tested. The east side of the South Zone remains fully contained, and is being patrolled for any threats to control lines. There are evacuations in the South Zone of the Complex, and orders are in place for portions of Mendocino and Lake counties. The fire is spread amongst Lake, Mendocino, Colusa, Glenn, Tehama and Trinity Counties

*South Zone 487,666 acres, 70% contained
*North Zone 280,577 acres, 36% contained
*West Zone 104,836 acres, 70% contained

Evacuation Warnings in Mendocino County have been upgraded to Evacuation Orders and new Evacuation Warnings have been issued.

Zone R: West and south of Mina Road, south of the North Fork of the Eel River, east of the Eel River.

Zone P: South of the county line, east of Mina Road north of Hulls Valley Road and west of Hulls Creek.

Zone O: South of the county line, east of Hulls Creek, north of Mendocino Pass Road, and west of Williams Creek.

Zone Q: South of the County Line, west and north of the North Fork of the Eel River, north and east of Bald Mountain Road.

Zone S: South of the county line, east of Bell Springs Road, north of Bell Springs Creek and west of the North Fork of the Eel River.

More firefighters needed in Calif. That’s the word from State Sen. Mike McGuire who says its’ the state’s “top priority” for Sonoma and Napa counties and that right now the state’s “squeezing as many resources out of the system as possible”. As of early this morning more than 6,000 more homes were evacuated in Sonoma County due to the Shady fire which broke out last night and was rampaging thru homes already. The fire jumped Highway 12 and started burning in neighborhoods. It’s burning on the Nuns and Tubbs fire scars. There were a couple of other new fires that started yesterday, in Butte (Byoote) and Shasta counties. The state has limited resources already due to the massive August complex and more than 20 others that started 6 weeks ago in a lightning storm. the 2017 Nuns and Tubbs fires, which under other conditions might have lessened the fire’s growth.

The red flag warning has been expanded for the whole North Bay which includes all of Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties and won’t end until tonight. It was only for the higher elevations of the North Bay hills and was supposed to expire this morning, but it changed.  The intentional power downs from PG&E also changed to include more homes. The utility company utilizing its Public Safety Power Shutoffs again to prevent its equipment from starting any more fires. The National Weather Service reported the expanded alert into the lower elevations was because of winds in the valleys. Some gusts in higher elevations could reach up to 50 mph. Firecrews watching containment lines on the LNU Lightning Complex which started around the same time the August Complex ignited. 

A new playground is coming to Westside Community Park in Lakeport. The Lake County Tribal Health Consortium working with the Lions Club for the new playground. The Tribal Health Consortium donated $5,000 last week for the new park after the Lions Club donated $100,000. Apparently a fundraising letter went out to raise $5,000 more after the Lions Club’s donation and the Consortium stepped up. There were also $4,000 in donations from the community.

A couple of meetings from the Lakeport Board of Education to discuss in person, hybrid and distance learning for the next school year. There were in person board meetings, that were socially distanced last week. The school Superintendent delivered a presentation about the possible change-over to hybrid learning. The Record Bee reports some administrators who attended the meeting by Zoom said it had been a challenge to teach online and manage kids in person. Some of the children were without internet as only 50 of 200 hotspots were delivered because the cell phone companies were late with them. That was noted as a priority so the students who couldn’t log on were taken care of. They also discussed how classrooms would be reconfigured for in person learning. The district reportedly working with the Lake County Office of Education to open learning hubs around the country. School officials said hybrid learning was the goal ASAP and as safe as they could make it.

Mendocino County has a plan for homelessness and Ukiah is signing on. The Daily Journal reports the City Council voted unanimously to endorse the county’s Strategic Plan to address homelessness. But a couple of councilmembers said they thought it would be a good idea for administrators to be hired to manage what more than 30 agencies and service providers were doing on the matter. It all started with the county considering a plan on homelessness after a report was prepared by a doctor who studied the local homeless and transient populations and blossomed from there. There is a list of four goals with action steps, timelines to meet them and their final results.

It’s official, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has approved of buying a motel to be turned into affordable housing. In a closed session meeting last week the board agreed to buy the Best Western motel on South Orchard Avenue for $10.6. million after it was announced the state was sending $9.6 million to the county to create housing. The county quickly entered negotiations on the property for transitional housing for individuals and families already homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The rooms will be studio-style units and there will be upgrades to about half of them for permanent housing within about ten years. It’s all part of Project Homekey.

Since there’s been more cases of Covid-19 in Lake County, the Public Health Office has announced possible new business restrictions. Dr. Gary Pace says the last few weeks have seen a surge in cases and outbreaks at two Senior Residential Facilities. One of them had 39 residents test positive, 7 of whom died. 16 staff members were infected. At the other, 3 residents and 8 staff tested positive.  There have also been clusters of infections at some businesses, schools, and in first responders.  If there’s a new case rate for any county in the state at more than 4.7 cases/day, they’re placed in the “Purple Tier” which replaced the “Watch List”. With that Dr. Pace is ordering  indoor services at restaurants, places of worship and gyms and fitness centers to be prohibited in Lake County by this Friday unless things don’t change. But Dr. Pace says they’re appealing to the state to delay it because if the senior facilities are all clear, the county could stay in the Red Tier. The county could be placed in the Purple Tier as soon as tomorrow.

Firefighters continuing to work on the August Complex, but switching management teams on the South Zone. The US Forest Service reported several thousand more acres burned on the Complex yesterday, now gaining on 863,000 acres across all three of its zones. The entire Complex is 38 percent contained, that number down 1% from a day before. The fire is sprawling, burning a huge swatch of land on the Mendocino National Forest and also spreading onto the Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests. Fire officials say they’re trying to bolster containment lines, taking out trees, finding smoldering hot spots and continue to manage containment lines near structures. They’re also reinforcing dozer lines north and west of Pillsbury Ranch where there are still mandatory evacuation orders. Today there will be a new management team on the South Zone.

Congressman Mike Thompson is having another of his virtual town halls related to the COVID-19 pandemic. His next, is next Thursday, Oct. 1st at 7 pm. This time around, his special guest is Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. She’s the chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The two will discuss the congressional response to the pandemic. Lake Co News reports this is the 15th in the Congressman’s series of town halls on the pandemic. It’s held over Zoom and Congressman Thompson’s Facebook page. He represents the state’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.

Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital has had an outbreak of Covid-19 in its medical surgical unit so patients are being quarantined. Apparently the patients were exposed by a hospital employee, so they’re being isolated within the unit. The Press Democrat reports an official with the National Union of Healthcare Workers says there are 19 patients quarantining. The hospital CEO says it’s out of an abundance of caution and the patients are at low risk. He also says a new case popped up at the hospital in an employee but it was unrelated to an outbreak in August when 26 employees and less than five patients were infected.

There’s a new chancellor for the California State University system, the first person of color to ascend to the position. Fresno State President Joseph Castro was named as the 8th chancellor on Wednesday by the board of trustees. He’s also the first native of California, first Mexican-American and first CSU president who got the job. He will replace the retiring Chancellor Timothy White in January. And Castro says he went after the job due to the pandemic because the system needs a strong leader. The Governor weighed in saying he has an extraordinary record. Castro also says he’s already talking to legislative leaders and Gov. Newsom.

The state’s health and human services secretary says flu season is close and since that could overwhelm hospitals, he’s urging flu shots. Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly says if there’s a severe flu season this fall and winter it could overwhelm California hospitals even as the state sees progress in Covid-19 infection rates. Health officials are recommending all Californians six months and up should get a flu shot this year. California has reported almost 791,000 confirmed cases, the most in the country.

Get ready for a new set of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). PG&E reports several thousand people in Northern Calif. could lose their power this weekend. The utility company says they notified their customers yesterday afternoon of the possibility. They could start to power people down tomorrow night depending on the forecast. But right now it looks like hot and dry conditions with fast moving wind is coming. And that can trigger power downs to prevent the utility company’s equipment from starting wildfires. The utility company giving warnings hours before and says they’ll be in touch at least once a day during the PSPS event, and it’ll take about 12 hours to get the power back on, once they have an all clear.

Nail Salons get to reopen across the state even in Purple Tier counties. The state health dept. says beauty industry representatives have kept in touch with them on protocols for opening indoors. The nail salons had been blamed on high coronavirus transmission rates so they could only be open outdoors. Many opened outside under tents and in parking lots. There was an outcry after hair salons and barber shops were allowed to open, but not nail salons. The state health and human services secretary says since case and hospital rates are down, it was a good sign to allow other businesses to reopen.  

Yosemite National Park is reopening. After shutting down due to smoky conditions, the national park announced they’ll allow visitors in this morning. They had closed last week due to smoke from the Creek Fire which brought unhealthy air, at hazardous levels to the area. There were closed roads that reopened last Sunday to through traffic only. You will need a day use reservation to go into the park and for campsites, you can book online. You can also check the status of the roads into the park there. The Creek Fire is burning northeast of Fresno and has charred more than 291,000 acres and is 34% contained. Officials in the National Park say they’re continuing to monitor air quality and are keeping in touch with local and federal public health experts on smoke impacts.

Board Supervisor John Hashak and his wife, Janice, both long time teachers are retiring from their teaching jobs. The Willits News reports after 50 years of combined service for each, they’re hanging up their hats. The two have each taught different subjects throughout their careers, John for 18 years at Willits High in Foreign languages, English Language, History and more. He also has taught elementary and middle school. Janice has taught at Blosser Lane for 21 years, leading classes in English Language, and also taught history classes at Willits High.

The Mendocino County Grand Jury mandated to be a watchdog of sorts for the workings of government, writing up a report on the Parlin Fork Fire Work Group. High marks for the group in its report from back in February after a site visit. The district is located in the Jackson State Demonstration Forest on Highway 20 and is part of the state Department of Corrections and Rehab managed by correctional officers and operated with Cal Fire. It’s also the oldest conservation camp in Northern California. It helps inmates learn new skills and serve the community. The visit before the coronavirus pandemic broke out. The Grand Jury reported the camp looked to be managed well and there was a dedicated staff who were to be commended for maintenance and being positive role models for inmates.

Fire weather watches this weekend so PG&E triggering public safety power shutoffs. Watch for the National Weather Service to issue weather warnings for most of Northern California this weekend and parts of Southern California next week as temperatures get to triple digits is some areas. Pacific Gas & Electric telling their customers to be prepared with fire weather, comes intentional power downs to prevent their equipment from catching on fire and spreading. Tens of thousands of people have already been warned their power could be off for at least two nights in high fire-risk conditions. PG&E says they will inspect their lines, then re-energize them, and that could take 12 hours. There are more than 2 dozen major wildfires burning in the state including the August Complex, the largest in state history. The US Forest Service reports the fire has charred nearly 870,000 acres and is still under 40% contained. The strongest winds are expected tomorrow into Sunday.

The Governor has signed Assemblyman Jim Wood’s bill into law so pharmacists can administer the COVID-19 vaccine once we get one approved that is proven effective by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Assemblyman Wood says as we’re getting ready for the approval, it’s critical to be prepared to deliver it to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.  Pharmacists have long been administering flu and other routine vaccinations. Wood says if we want our children to go back to school and if we want to get back to work and together with friends and family, we’ve got to make sure all Californians have access to an FDA-approved and effective vaccine as soon as it’s available.

The new incident management team has taken over the massive South Zone of the August Complex Fire. The total acreage on the fire is nearly 870,000 acres and it’s 40% contained. The US Forest Service says crews continue to make progress in the Pillsbury Lake area, mopping up after successful firing operations earlier this week. And other crews are working on firelines in the Elk Creek drainage and the Sanhedrin Wilderness to prevent further fire spread to the west. As we’ve been reporting, the east side of the South Zone is fully contained. It’s being monitored to make sure it stays that way. There are still Evacuation Orders in the South Zone for areas of both Mendocino and Lake Counties.

A Christian school in Ukiah has reopened. The Ukiah Junior Academy which is located in a local vineyard has children back in class. The Principal Rick Nelson says they were worried long periods of isolation away from school would be harmful to students’ psychological well-being and says they felt a reopening was necessary. Nelson says they put protocols in place to keep children safe. They were able to open after being cleared by the county health department and sending a waiver to the state health department. They have students from kindergarten through sixth grade at in-person classes; seventh-through tenth grades are distance learning until further notice.

The team working on the August Complex, CAL FIRE and the U.S. Forest Service report the West Zone of the fire is now at 103,780 acres, spans approximately 195 miles of fire line and is 45% contained. There are still evacuation orders and warnings and others are being reduced as fire conditions change. Firefighters conducted additional firing operations in the Mill Creek area, above Lake Pillsbury, trying to burn out the isolated pockets of unburned fuels. Further north, ground resources and aircraft worked to improve and widen containment lines. Firefighters performing direct fire attack and mop up where fire conditions safely allow. 8,900 structures remain threatened.

A man in Lakeport says another man burglarized him of several firearms and knows who did it. The victim told police he thinks 18 year old Michael Dore was to blame. But Dore denied it. Deputies found ammo, but no guns at his home. The burglary victim called later to say Dore recently shot at another man at Highland Springs Reservoir and the victim could confirm. Indeed, that victim said he was at a party where a car drove towards him with Dore as the passenger; and he fired shots at him. Deputies again went to question Dore. He admitted he was at the scene, but didn’t shoot anyone, he was arrested anyway. Later in the day a loaded firearm was found in Lucerne near where Dore had first been stopped. A Glock handgun reported stolen almost a year ago was recovered and Dore admitted he tossed it. He’s charged with several crimes and held on $250,000.

The elections office in Mendocino County looking for some folks to help with the upcoming election. The office in Ukiah says they need 2 Extra Help as they’re mailing 52,000 + ballots to registered voters in Mendocino County on October 5th. The office says once the ballots start coming back they need some dedicated people to help. You will be working with experienced Election workers who will train you on how to work in teams to scan barcodes on each ballot envelope, check signatures, file and maintain a precise chain of command with opening and preparing the ballots to be counted. They will also gather supplies for the Polling Locations and help with required canvass procedures after Election Day. The work is for 6 weeks starting mid October to the end of November. You need to be at least 18 years old, registered to vote and organized.

We follow all the County Public Health orders, practice social distancing and clean frequently. Please call our Elections Office at 707 234-6819.

The Mendocino County Elections Office says they’ve been receiving questions about the upcoming election. As a reminder Official Ballots will be mailed October 5th to all registered voters in the State of California due to the pandemic. If you don’t receive it by October 15th, they would like you to be in touch for a replacement ballot. The ballot can be mailed back or brought to a Ballot Drop Box Location after you fill it out. The ballot can be processed as soon as the Elections Office gets it. There is no postage necessary.

PG&E warning about possible public safety power shutoffs this weekend or next week due to predicted fire watch weather. The utility will first send a notification two days before any event, then one day before. After the Watch notification, the company will send a Warning if forecasted conditions show they will need to power you down. The Warning notifications are to be sent about four to 12 hours before the power is shut off. The company says the Watch and Warning notifications are directly tied to weather forecasts which can change fast. They will do it by automated calls, texts and emails.  During the shut off event they will continue to provide updates to customers at least once a day until power is restored.

Sonoma County’s in the purple tier, the most restrictive for reopening businesses as the county apparently cannot meet requirements. The Press Democrat reports the county may be catching up though and might be able to reopen some businesses as soon as next week, depending on a couple of key metrics. The county has to prove the spread of coronavirus has slowed since the beginning of the month, and that it’s stable. The Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase says the county is very close to meeting the requirements. It’s one of two Bay Area counties stuck in what was the state’s watch list, and now is the purple tier. Contra Costa is the other.

Firefighting resources remain a challenge in California, so Mexico says it’s sending 101 firefighters to the United States to help on the Calif. wildfires. The Environment Department in Mexico reported yesterday they’re sending five teams of 20 trained, equipped firefighters from their national forestry commission to work with the U.S. Forest Service. They’re first reporting to Sequoia National Park where the SQF Complex of fires started by lightning continue burning. The country reports they were able to send crews because only one of Mexico’s 32 states has active wildfires. Summer and early fall are when it’s typically wet and rainy in most of Mexico.

An online meeting scheduled once again to update the public on the August Complex. The South Zone team is hosting the online meeting tonight at 7 on the Mendocino National Forest Facebook page. The fire as a whole has added several thousand acres the last few days, with a fire weather warning coming this weekend. The fire started well over a month ago and is still less than 50% contained. Full containment is not expected until the middle of November. 35 structures have burned and 1,600 more are threatened. There are evacuation orders on the South Zone in both Lake and Mendocino Counties.

The state is allowing more businesses to reopen. That includes some of the largest counties in the Bay Area and Southern Calif. The state health secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly also announced earlier this week that nail salons could also reopen, but cautions, flu season is arriving, and cases are rising in Europe and other parts of the U.S. The reopenings are based on the amount of positive tests and per capita new cases per county reporting. A county has to report less cases and stability in new cases before they can move to the next tier, but most counties are no longer in the purple tier. Los Angeles County has been in the purple tier but could be out, along with Sonoma County next week.

A new report shows the heavy smoke from wildfires across the state has killed more people than the fires. Health experts reported between the beginning of August until Sept. 10th at least 1,200 and maybe as many as 3,000 people have died in the state. The report by researchers at Stanford University says the deaths were in those over 65, most of them had pre-existing conditions like heart disease, diabetes and respiratory ailments. 26 people have died in direct relation to wildfires this year across Calif.

afternoon update

The name has been released of a man killed earlier this week during what the sheriff’s office has called a family dispute. 44 year old Jamie Wilcox of Ukiah is the man who police say was killed by Thomas Dean Jones. They say another man, a 28 year old was also shot. They have not released his name. An autopsy has been set for this afternoon on Wilcox. The 28 year-old man is being treated and is expected to recover from his injuries.  

Schools in Lake County that have made adjustments due to the pandemic may have to again. And now reports of a student at Clearlake High who’s contracted COVID. The Public Health Office has reported a student tested positive and contact tracing has begun. All students and families in the students small instructional group have been notified. On Tuesday, Dr. Gary Pace at the Board of Supervisors meeting talking about how the county is closing in on the Purple Tier, like the state’s watch list, which has the strictest guidelines. It could mean businesses that closed, and reopened, would have to close again. And it could mean schools go back to distance learning. Lake Co News reports last month Lucerne Elementary and Upper Lake Unified became the first two county school districts to reopen in a hybrid model.  But Dr. Pace says the schools that already opened shouldn’t be affected, but others may be delayed. 

A woman from Bakersfield’s been arrested after an attempted murder on a man with a metal pipe. Ukiah police say they got a call to the 900 block of South State Street Saturday where yelling was coming from the area near ABC Supply Company. The woman, Melissa Miller was seen pushing the victim into a dark area of the parking lot, wielding the pipe and pushing it up against his throat. They ordered her to drop the pipe and she refused, they eventually talked her down and arrested her. The victim told police he knew Miller before the altercation, but she threatened his life. She also admitted the same to police. She’s charged with suspicion of attempted murder, kidnapping, resisting arrest and violating her probation, and is being held under $250,000 bail.

The public health office in Sonoma County has reported another six people have died from complications of coronavirus. Now 120 people have died in the county. The latest are five senior care facility residents, the other was not, but was a man over 65 years old. There had been no reported deaths for the last week, but one of the deaths reportedly actually happened back in August and was just reported now. Of the 120 who have died, 95 were living at skilled nursing facilities or residential care homes. A reported outbreak also at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital last month in the medical surgical area. There was contract tracing on 26 health care workers and less than five patients and no more infections. The hospital says it did deep cleaning and will add another layer of restrictions to prevent another outbreak.

Some fitness centers in Sonoma County are suing the state saying they’re being treated differently than other businesses during the pandemic and should be allowed to reopen indoors. The lawsuit was filed by the California Fitness Alliance and says it’s not fair that restaurants, barbershops, movie theaters and other businesses don’t have such rigorous restrictions and want evidence that gyms spread the virus. The suit filed by the business trade group last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

A new shelter in place order has been put in place in Mendocino County. The Public Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren revised what was in place staying in the purple, or most at risk tier. But he says the new order is more streamlined to avoid duplication with State orders. So there are almost no restrictions on tourism except there must be an individual caretaker/manager on-call 24/7 and prepared to be there within one hour. The stable groups or bubbles are modified to 12 people instead of 6 and restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms do not have to close at 8 pm. The new health order goes into effect immediately.

A man from Lakeport’s been arrested after he was seen lighting a fire in Upper Lake. Baraquiel Simon Ruiz arrested after a report Sunday night of an arson. A witness told deputies he saw the man light the fire in the 6600 block of Westlake Road in Upper Lake, then take off. He described the man to deputies and said he yelled at the guy to stop and he then stomped it out and ran. The witness video’s the whole thing. Ruiz was identified in a line up, then admitted he was trying to burn trash. He was arrested and booked into jail on $250,000 bail. 

The Mendocino Air Quality Management District reports there’s still a lot of smoke coming off the August Complex fire. The firefighters on the area near Lake Pillsbury are doing backfiring which is also producing more smoke. The management district says the better air quality is expected to stick around for a few days, but there may be widespread haze and smoke. Right now air monitors show particulate matter concentrations in the “Good” to “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” range for most parts of the county. There could be “Unhealthy” air quality in northern and northeastern inland communities. Coastal areas have good air quality in the morning then “Moderate” and “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” later in the day.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors expected to instruct the Registrar of Voters Office to go ahead and verify over 2,000 signatures for a referendum challenge on an ordinance to enforce state and local Public Health orders. Lake Co News reports the vote was unanimous yesterday. The ordinance was agreed to last month and the board could just rescind it, but instead decided to follow protocol for verification. The ordinance is due to go into effect about now, 30 days after its approval, which was Aug. 18th. But it was suspended because of the referendum petition’s submission. The ordinance is to enforce public health orders related to mask wearing, social distancing, hygiene requirements and if a business doesn’t close if the health order calls for it.  There have been 516 positive cases in the county and 11 deaths.

Less than 200 acres growth on the August Complex. The three zones of the fire, south and north, which have burned together, and the west, have burned more than 851,000 acres. It’s 38% contained and is still actively burning on the Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests. Burning operations in the Lake Pillsbury area continue and there are mandatory evacuation orders for some in that area. Firefighters on the West Zone are working on control lines along the eastern area of the zone. There have been 35 structures destroyed and 1,600 are threatened on the entire fire.

A fire quickly put out in Ukiah after it starts in the garage of a home. It happened Sunday on Creekside Court. The Ukiah Valley Fire Authority reports quick work on the fire after several people called it in. When crews got to the scene they found flames erupting out of the window of the garage. They cut into its roll up door so they could put the fire out. They reported smoke damage throughout the house and didn’t know how it started, but say it didn’t appear to be suspicious. They also noted there was what looked to be a marijuana-drying operation in the garage.

Looks like the pandemic has affected enrollment for the state’s community college system. A new report by the Chancellor of the system says there’s a decline of student enrollment for the fall. Numbers were already down before the pandemic, but the Chancellor says the fall semester saw a decline in enrollment and the gap is closing, but they won’t know for sure until another set of data is released in November. He says right now they’re experiencing about a 5-7% decrease. But there was an increase over the summer. A community college survey with half of the state’s colleges reporting back showed off numbers in enrollments, for part-time and full-time students. But there were a few with higher enrollments.

One of the many fires that started more than a month ago in a dry lightning storm is finally 100% contained. Firefighters gained full containment on the CZU Lightning Complex in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties. But there are still more than 2 dozen other major wildfires in California and over 18,200 firefighters on the front lines. They report making progress on the fires and another 22 new wildfires that started yesterday.  A Fire Weather Watch is in effect starting Saturday morning for a large part of Northern California due to expected gusty winds and low humidity, bringing critical fire weather conditions.  It’s forecasted to last through Monday along with an expected sharp increase in temperatures this weekend across most of California.   The LNU Complex which had triggered evacuations last month in Lake County is still not quite contained at 363,220 acres, with no new growth expected, it’s 98% contained. The one we continue to watch closely, with evacuation orders in Mendocino and Lake counties, the August Complex, the South Zone has burned almost 488,000 acres on its own, is 50% contained, the North Zone, at over 269,000 acres is 35% contained, and the West Zone of the fire has burned nearly 104,000 acres is 45% contained.

A man in Ukiah has been arrested after reports of a shooting death during a family dispute. The sheriff’s office got a call this morning to the 2500 block of Twining Road and found the shooter, who surrendered on the spot. He’s been identified as Thomas Dean Jones. Deputies found two victims who’d been shot, one of them dead. That was a 28 year-old man, the other a 44 year old man who had life threatening injuries and was taken by air ambulance to an out of county hospital. Police and the CHP also reported to the scene. Right now investigators say it looks to have been a family dispute regarding the possible sale of the family property. Detectives from the sheriff’s office working the case with the DA’s office and the state Dept. of Justice.

The Lake County Public Health Officer reports another death from Covid-19. The death over the weekend for a total of 11 deaths. Dr. Gary Pace says the death was not related to a Senior Residential Facility, but that one in the county has had more than 30 confirmed cases in residents, 20 in staff, and seven deaths.  He says yet another one had two resident cases and four staffers who were positive and says it looks like a staff member gets sick outside the facility, the brings it to the facility, which has been happening in many other situations. Dr. Pace says post-holiday cases are common as with Labor Day. He also says the numbers are consistent with the state’s most restrictive tier, Purple so if the case load continues as is, the county could be in that tier which means closing indoor dining and other restrictions like schools not opening for in person. So he says slowing transmission by wearing masks and avoiding gatherings with people outside of our households is the best practice.

The August Complex has now burned almost 847,000 acres. The fire itself is only 34% contained. Good work reported by firefighters on the South Zone where the whole eastern edge of that zone is contained. The South and North Zones have now burned together. The fire is burning in the Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests. There have been 35 structures destroyed and still there are 1,595 threatened. We still have evacuations in the South Zone of the fire in effect for Mendocino and Lake counties, Pillsbury Ranch and the Lake Pillsbury basin in Lake County are still under mandatory orders.

In the West Zone of the fire 125 National Guard personnel are assigned to the incident. This zone has charred almost 94,000 acres and is 30% contained. Calif. firefighters and National Guard members are joined by resources from Montana, Idaho, Texas, and New Jersey. The Forest Service reports being successful with their firing operations near Lake Pillsbury yesterday which helped them eliminate isolated pockets of unburned fuels. Firefighters are mopping up areas further north where the fire has died down. There is a lot of smoke, active pockets and several areas where the fire continues to smolder and creep.

A new ordinance for changes to commercial cannabis operations have been approved by the Clearlake City Council. The third meeting in a row on the rule changes last Thursday after they first took up the matter last month to allow more permits to be released due to higher demand. The city manager reported to the council that existing businesses were successful and there should be more allowed, so the council has given the green light for more delivery-only dispensaries and other cannabis businesses, but not retailers, because the city code calls for the amount the city already has. The city manager told Lake Co News there were four additional permits wanted already.

Improved jobless numbers across the state. In Lake County, the rate for August at 8.8% as opposed to 11.7 percent in July and 14.2 percent in June. Last August it was 4.5 percent. The state recorded 11.4 percent in August, down from 13.5 percent in July. It’s the first month since the pandemic first surfaced where the state’s rate was lower than when it was during the recession, at 12.3%. In Mendocino County the August unemployment was 8.8%, down more than 2 points from 10.9 percent in July, and in Colusa, 11%, Napa, 8.3% and Sonoma was 7.7%.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife looking for a regulation change so hunters of elk and pronghorn (antelope) can get full refunds due to shortened seasons due to wildfires and forest closures. Those eligible could also potentially get a preference point for elk or pronghorn for the 2020 season. The agency’s director says the unprecedented forest closures and wildfires cut the season and the tags are expensive. He says refunding the fees and restoring the preference points is the least they can do. Hunting fees pay for scientific research and conservation measures. An elk tag is $461.50 and a pronghorn tag costs $155.27, not including application and processing fees. Those are not going to be refundable.

Another man believed to have been part of a group of others caught up in a marijuana strong arm robbery in Laytonville hog tied by community members, and now public outcry. A picture surfaced on social media of the Black man, David Edmonds, who was eventually arrested after Saturday’s cannabis robbery. The photo had some saying it was good the man was caught, but some negative and racist comments followed. Another said the image was “highly disturbing”. Edmonds and six others were caught after three men, a woman and a girl were all held at gunpoint.

A group in Mendocino County reminding not to forget to fill out your Census questionnaire.  The country’s population, as you probably know, is counted every ten years. It’s part of the U.S. Constitution, that the country’s population will be counted each decade. That helps decide how many reps a state gets in the House of Representatives and how much money comes to each state. The Mendocino County response rate was under 55% last time. You can visit or call 844-330-2020 and Spanish speakers can call 1-844-468-2020.

A local cleanup in Ukiah is set. “From Street to Creek” to help rid the streets and neighborhoods of trash. The pandemic has brought new litter, masks, gloves, and disposable takeout containers, according to the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District. The agency says many things can be rinsed and recycled, reused or composted, but they hit local creeks and threaten the water supply. This year volunteers can work alone or in their own established COVID bubble. Bubbles are assigned when you pick up supplies Saturday at your assigned location. You have to pre-register by Thursday at https://www.surveymonkey. com/r/QNP95FB. For more information, contact Edelman at

A man from Lake County accused of arson who had to be examined for competency has been found competent to stand trial. But Matthew Miravalle pleaded no contest to the arson charge in March. He also waived his right to a trial by jury though, on the question of competency. His lawyer asked for doctor’s reports which were presented to the court. He now goes to court October 5th. But to be sentenced. The case has gone on to the Lake County Probation Department for a sentencing recommendation.  He’s accused of setting three fires in Clearlake Oaks. Two doctors found he was competent. He’s also recently been registered with the state as an arsonist.

A tax break for the state’s cannabis industry thanks to lawmakers. The Gov. signed a bill into law that adjusts the cannabis excise tax markup amount until July 1, 2021. It also does not allow the cultivation tax rates to be adjusted for inflation all of next year unless it means an inflation rate less than zero. The legal marijuana industry still competing with the black market, lobbied lawmakers for tax relief.

Now the biggest fire to ever burn in Calif, at almost 880,000 acres. Since the fire started over a month ago thousands had to leave their homes. Many have been allowed to return, others in Lake and Mendocino Counties are still out. The West Zone of the fire has burned an area of Trinity County down to Lake Pillsbury in Mendocino County and stretches 195 miles. It’s burned more than, 95,100 acres and is 35% contained.  The North Zone is threatening communities around Ruth and has burned nearly 295,650 acres. It’s 29% contained. It’s merged with the South Zone which is mostly contained except around Lake Pillsbury in Mendocino and Lake counties.  The South Zone, the largest of the 3 zones, includes the Doe Fire. It’s burned almost 488,000 acres and is 40% contained.  The milder weather the state’s been experiencing is ending this weekend with an expected spike in temperatures. It’s the first day of fall when Calif. has historically had to deal with the largest and most devastating fires. CAL FIRE warns not to let your guard down and visit  

No Kelseyville Pear Festival this year. Lake Co News reports it’s the best attended one day event in the county, a one-day celebration of the county’s harvest of pears, walnuts, olives and winegrapes. Due to the pandemic the event is canceled for the first time in nearly 30 years. The event is planned for next year.

No new unemployment claims will be accepted in California for 2 weeks. That’s so the backlog can be caught up on and to reduce fraud. The state’s Employment Development Department has a backlog of about 600,000 claims and one million claims need to somehow be modified. Outdated technology is apparently causing the logjam as the state receives mountains of claims amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The department says there are around 2.1 million people out of work, but the rate dropped to 11.4% in August from 13.5% in July. Currently if you have to file, you’ll have to wait until October 5th, the agency will only accept contact information, then will be in touch in two weeks to complete claims. Those already in the system should not have their claims interrupted.

Reports of an armed robbery at a home in Laytonville lead to several arrests. The Sheriff’s office reports getting a call to the Black Oak Ranch in the 49000 block of North Highway 101, last Thursday finding multiple victims and identifying even more suspects. Tyler Bagliere and his dad, Louis at the property with Lathiaro White and Anthony Watson armed with firearms Thursday. Deputies say they held several people at gunpoint and demanded money, shooting one weapon near one of the victims. They eventually left, with about 20 pounds of marijuana, and said they’d be back in two days. And Tyler came back with three others Christopher Stewert, Deangelo Villalona, and another unidentified man. Same thing, shooting a weapon, demanding money. Three of the suspects arrested right away after being found with several assault rifles, a handgun and ammo. They’re charged with several crimes including armed robbery in concert, assault with a deadly weapon, felony child endangerment, and criminal threats. All were held except Louis Bagliere who was released for medical reasons. One of those reported at the marijuana robbery was caught later and charged along with the others.

A vehicle stop in Willits leads to a trio of arrests. Deputies stopped a car on Sept. 10th on the 101 north, at the West Road off ramp in Redwood Valley. The driver Jerry DeGurse, the front passenger, Nathan DeGurse and a rear passenger, Vicki Sandage.  Jerry had 7 warrants so he was held, then it was found Nathan also had 2 warrants, all of them out of Siskiyou County.  So the two were arrested. Heroin was found on Nathan as well and the female passenger had meth. She was held to appear later, the others held in jail.

The sheriff has requested help from the state since they aren’t getting hand crews from prison populations on the August Complex. Sheriff Matt Kendall appealing to the state for National Guard members. The Sheriff says Guard troops are trained to help CALFIRE Type 1 Hand Crews in establishing and maintaining fire lines, and they will not be used for law enforcement purposes. Other hand crews have been sent to the North Zone building dozer lines. The August Complex North and South Zones have burned together.  

A gathering in Fort Bragg to show support for the police. Residents on Main Street yesterday supporting first responders with a rally after there was a recent complaint regarding the flag logo on patrol cars showing a thin blue line. The thin blue line was in remembrance of fallen Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, the first officer killed in the line of duty in Fort Bragg. Those rallying yesterday say they support all first responders, Law Enforcement, Fire, EMT’s, Dispatchers and others. The organizer says all of the attendees observed coronavirus outdoor gathering restrictions.

The North and South Zone of the August Complex have burned together. Some evacuation orders have however been lifted to warnings. There are still many orders and warnings in Mendocino County though. CAL FIRE’S unified team and the U.S. Forest Service are working in a coordinated response on the Complex, which was split into three zones for a more effective response. No word if there will only be two zones yet. But CAL FIRE’s Incident Management Team has ordered the National Guard to come help. The West Zone on its own has burned 91,800 acres and is 20% contained. Besides resources from across the state of California, firefighters from Montana, Idaho, Texas, and New Jersey have been assigned to help. There was increased fire behavior over the weekend due to higher humidity levels, increased temperatures and critically dry fuels near Lake Pillsbury. The entire Complex has burned 837,241 acres and is 34% contained. There’s been one death, the Complex 100% containment date has been projected for the middle of November.

An extension of the Public Health order and an update expected at the next Lake County Board of Supervisors meeting. The board is also expected to revisit issues with the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office. The board may take up a proposed no confidence vote for the Treasurer-Tax Collector Barbara Ringen after she reportedly told the board she wasn’t prepared to respond to several complaints and concerns by board members themselves, and the city of Clearlake on tax defaulted property sales. The board also taking up several proclamations for some retirees and honorees at the meeting tomorrow.

The Forest Service making progress on the South Zone of the August Complex even though it burned into the North Zone. The fire which has destroyed 35 structures is still threatening another 1,600. Crews were working over the weekend strengthening lines near Pillsbury Ranch and working to protect structures with burning operations. Soldiers from Washington were helping Calif. firefighters. There are many still under mandatory evacuation orders or warnings. Some were allowed to go home in the Mendocino National Forest in Glenn County. If residents have to get to their homes on a Forest Service road they have to have a Forest Service permit. The South Zone evacuation orders remain in effect for Mendocino and Lake counties. .

A woman from Lakeport being hailed a hero for helping save a toddler who looked to be drowning in a pool Labor Day weekend at a resort in Nice. 20 year old Lydia Meraz, a staff member at WorldMark Clear Lake Resort reportedly did CPR on the 3-year-old, Darius Apar after he was pulled out of the swimming pool by his mom. Lake Co News reports tomorrow morning the Board of Supervisors will recognize Meraz for her heroic actions. Meraz is the resort’s guest services manager. She says she heard screaming for help Sept. 6th and told others to call 911 and went to the pool. Mom was apparently swimming laps and found the 3 year old face down in the pool, so Meraz did CPR.

The new Public Health Officer in Mendocino County says we’re moving in the right direction related to Covid-19. Public Health Officer Andy Coren in a regular Friday meeting of his office for the public on the pandemic said containing the numbers is helping the county potentially move out of the purple tier, the most restrictive in the state. Dr. Coren says more businesses can reopen in the red tier. Another death was confirmed last week. Coren described the patient as an elderly Hispanic woman. He also announced that Ken Fowler Auto Center had an outbreak, and as of Friday, they had nine cases. There were 18 more cases this weekend for a total in the county of 851. Dr. Coren reminded about the upcoming flu season and is urging residents to get a flu vaccine, especially healthcare workers.

Two more deputies will be added to the Sheriff’s Dept. in Lake County. And the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved its final budget agreeing to take $200,000 from the cannabis program to give to the sheriff’s office for the two new officers. The Sheriff Brian Martin told the board his agency was “significantly understaffed” with a 19% vacancy rate and 29 open positions. He also said retaining deputies has been an issue due to lower salaries in his department. The $9.3 million budget was approved for the sheriff’s department, which was the same last year. The supervisors also talked about getting other departments in the county to also bring them proposals to use cannabis tax revenue. The board also noted sales tax revenue was projected to be as much as 80% less than last year due to the pandemic.  

There will still be a Dine Out with Hospice event in Lake County amidst the pandemic. The event is this Thursday to support Hospice Services of Lake County with either dining in, or out, or taking out. There are nearly 2 dozen restaurants taking part this year. They will all have donation envelopes with donations going to the Wings of Hope Bereavement program and special needs of Hospice patients. This is the fourth year for the event. Organizers say in years past some restaurants have donated up to 50% of their sales and included a large tip. But they say this year they hope to see full restaurants with businesses keeping their sales and having those donation envelopes separate. There are also several sponsors.

For more information, call Hospice Services of Lake County, (707) 263-6222. Visit the organization’s website at http://www.lakecountyhospice. org.

The August Complex South Zone is in better shape. The US Forest Service reports hard work pays off and that, as additional burning operations are conducted, containment continues to increase. As we reported Friday, the east side of the South Zone is fully contained, and the entire Complex is now 34 percent. The perimeter of the entire Complex is more than 568 miles, larger than driving from Red Bluff to Boise, ID. Firefighters flying over Pillsbury Ranch were grounded due to smoke, but hand crews took out vegetation and increased protection of structures anyway. Residents and property owners who were evacuated or warned to evacuate had their orders lifted or reduced. Check with the Mendocino County Sheriff for your address.  There are still many road closures and Forests remain closed due to the August Complex. Around the South Fork Mountain down behind homes in Ruth there’s an intentionally controlled fire down the western slope. Dozer lines were also constructed between houses to help with protection which is supposed to continue all week. Fire managers on this portion of the fire are working on defense for the communities of Ruth Lake, Forest Glen and Trinity Pines/Post Mountain. Those established containment lines on the eastern part of the fire, east of East Low Gap being actively monitored.  Crews are mopping up, improving fire lines, dropping snags and making sure the fire line will continue to hold. Ground resources will be actively patrolling containment lines.  The North and South Zones have burned together in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness. The public is told the wildfire activity can change quickly and to follow all Evacuation Orders and Warnings. 

Distance learning to continue at Mendocino College thru the spring semester. The Superintendent/President Tim Karas announced earlier this week that after multiple discussions with staff, faculty, and administrative leadership, the evaluation of guidelines by local and state health agencies, and recommendations from the State Chancellor’s Office, they’ve decided that most classes would be remote next term. Karas says it’s to protect the health and safety of students, employees, and the community. There will however be some in person courses and others with hybrid instruction. Karas also says he hopes as spring nears that they can add more in person classes.  

The incident team working on the August Complex West Zone has updated the acreage for that portion of the fire, which does not include the massive Doe Fire. The West Zone has burned over 80,000 acres and is 7% contained. They have firefighters on the incident from Montana, Idaho, Texas, and New Jersey. The fire was active yesterday and fire officials reported they expected it to stay active through the night. The August Complex was split into 3 zones, the West, North and South. The entire Complex has burned 809,135 acres. There’s been one fatality and 18 structures destroyed.

Crime numbers in Sonoma County way off, but it has nothing to do with the pandemic. From 2010-2019, crime statistics showed a drop of 22% and the state of California also had its lowest crime level in recorded history last year. The info comes from the state and was published by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco. It shows 10 other counties with lower crime rates than Sonoma County, but 41 counties reported crime rates were down the last decade.

Due to the historic fires and erratic fire behavior Yosemite National Park is closing to all visitors. The smoke from the fires is closing the park. There are notices up at all of the park entrances and roads after they closed indefinitely yesterday afternoon. The park says there’s hazardous air quality and they’ll reopen when conditions are safe. It comes after Sequoia National Park closed earlier this week. But Kings Canyon National Park is staying open with poor air quality.

A preschooler in Kelseyville has reportedly contracted coronavirus. The Kelseyville Unified Superintendent says they were informed a student at Kelseyville Elementary School tested positive, but no school staff were in contact with the student. Lake Co News reports the Lake County Superintendent of Schools posted a message on the Office of Education website yesterday saying the school had sent notice to parents and guardians at the school, which is not named. The preschool will close for 2 weeks after the date of last known exposure and the building is being closed for deep cleaning and disinfecting. The student apparently had no symptoms. In the latest demographics from the Lake County Public Health Dept. it shows 40 children from birth to age 12 have tested positive for COVID-19.

A big thumbs up at a couple of school districts in the North Shore of Lake County. Lake Co News reports after just about a month in class, the superintendents of both school districts, Lucerne and Upper Lake – say there have been no issues. The schools have new restrictions in place, smaller classes, hand sanitizer stations around the schools, regular playground disinfection, more bus runs, shorter school days, plexiglass cubicles and teaching stations, mask wearing, staggered lunch hours and more outdoor learning. Upper Lake schools got a new HVAC system. There’s no sports happening in either district. All of the county’s other school districts are still doing online learning.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors has approved the latest budget. They had their final budget hearing Wednesday, going thru each county department, one by one over two days’ time. The county approved a temporary hiring freeze. The cannabis industry is making good money for the county. A staff report says the code enforcement division has been kept busy with new cannabis businesses after nine years of pretty stagnant business. The proposed budget was just over $210,300,000 the same as last year.  

A new fire in the Clearlake area. The Wolf incident burning northeast of the city and last night was pegged at 15-20 acres, burning at a moderate rate of speed in grass. There were reports of multiple explosions, power lines down and structures threatened. There were no evacuations ordered by last night. Dispatch reports say a resident reported a propane tank explosion around the start of the fire. So firefighters who reported to the fire had left soon after and were going back to work on the August Complex.

Scientists say smoke from the fires ravaging Calif. and other Western states are now reaching Northern Europe. The fires that started a month ago in California, Oregon and Washington billowing unhealthy smoke affecting millions. Now scientists from CAMS, part of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts says while using satellite observations to track wildfire activity around the world they could detect the smoke. They say fire activity this year in the US has been “tens to hundreds of times more intense” than on average from 2003 to 2019 across the country as a whole.

Several more cases of coronavirus in Mendocino County. The county had some good news though, that it reached the next tier of the new system on reopening businesses in the state. There were 5 new cases yesterday and 9 on Wednesday. But the state has Mendocino County in the Red Tier for daily positive cases. The Red Tier is several weeks in a row with less than 7 daily positive cases. The public health office reports getting to the Red Tier is because of the work residents in the county are doing, practicing social distancing and consistent mask wearing. As of yesterday there had been 822 positive cases and 18 deaths.

CAL FIRE and the Mendocino County Sheriff put out a statement to thank community members for donating items, but they’re asking for any more donations to be directed to charities. Due to safety precautions because of the pandemic, the Sheriff and the CAL FIRE August Complex West Zone team ask that any volunteer efforts or donations go to local charities instead to help people displaced due to the fire. They also warn to be careful if you use an online donation platform.

Fort Bragg schools offering free meals to all children under 18. 5 days of meals and snacks can be picked up each Wednesday between 2 and 3 pm at Redwood Elementary and Dana Gray Elementary. Children must be 18 years of age or younger regardless of which school they attend, or whether or not they are enrolled in school at all. The meals provided weekly until either December, or the meals run out.

A man from Covelo’s been found guilty of two burglaries in the spring. The jury convicted Neil Waldron yesterday afternoon for two counts of commercial burglary in downtown Covelo in April. The burglaries at The Village Hearth and Keith’s Market. The man had spent time in prison on a similar crime in 2019 at Mina Burger and had just gotten out of prison when he committed the two new crimes. The case has been sent now to the Adult Probation Department for a background investigation and sentencing recommendation. He’s set for sentencing October 9th and is in custody until that time.


In the West Zone of the August Complex Fire, an Evacuation order in Mendocino County has been downgraded to a Warning. These are Orders we told you about this week in 4 zones covering areas South of the County Line. And road closures are reopened on Hearst Willits Road at the Eel River Bridge and FH-7 at M1 – Eel River. We’ve been here before, but the sheriff’s office is reminding to stay vigilant during the current fire conditions.  

Zone S:  South of the County Line, East of Bell Springs Rd, North of Bell Springs Creek and West of the North Fork of the Eel River.

Zone Q:  South of the County Line, West and North of the North Fork of the Eel River, North and East of Bald Mountain Road.

Zone D:  South and East of the Eel River, North of Bentley Basin and West of the National Forest Boundary.

Zone N:  North of the Middle Fork of the Eel River including the Eel River Ranger Station and Black Butte Store, West and South of the National Forest Boundary, East of Williams Creek.

A US Forest Service firefighter has been killed on the El Dorado Fire. Now 26 people have died in the fire that was sparked by a device at a gender reveal party in Southern Calif.

The Forest Service reports almost all of the eastern section of the south zone of the August Complex is nearly fully contained. They say there are only a few locations of uncontained line remaining. They’re conducting mop up operations in some locations, but most of the eastern area is progressing to a patrol and monitor status. The evacuation for Glenn County in the Mendocino National Forest was lifted this morning. This area of the fire is active on the southwest perimeter and north of Lake Pillsbury. They report extremely dry fuels and fast winds are carrying the fire south. More humidity carried by a cold front onshore with more cloud cover and some showers should help firefighters on the August Complex. The fire as a whole has now burned 824,118 acres and is still only 30% contained.

The public health officer in Sonoma County has announced major outbreaks of Covid-19 at more than a dozen pre-school and home-based child cares. More than 60 people have become infected with coronavirus at 13 facilities, 25 kids who are mostly under 6, 27 of their family members and 10 staffers at the preschools. None of them ending up in the hospital. Dr. Sundari Mase’s office had closed an unidentified preschool two weeks ago after there were 16 infected children. 30 infections were linked to the site where one child was sick. There’s a planned demonstration in downtown Santa Rosa today to get in person learning back at county schools. Dr. Mase says it’s not surprising, but she thinks it could be good to rethink in person class right now.

A winery in Geyserville faces a massive fine for doing work without a permit. The Press Democrat reports Sonoma County agriculture officials fined Skipstone Ranch and its owner Fahri Diner over $172,280, the most ever in the county – for grading an acre of land. Skipstone is appealing the July fine which has 3 violations attached to it. The newspaper reports county agriculture officials found industrial grading on a steep hill at the property in the Anderson Valley. A spokesperson for the winery says the construction was for repairs after the Kincade fire last fall.

The state insurance commissioner is looking at some regulatory changes to offset higher prices for consumers related to wildfire risk. The Department of Insurance is having a hearing with homeowners, industry experts and insurance providers for an accelerated premium for some homeowners, but they would find out how their property might be affected by wildfires, then they’d be assisted with mitigation. Commissioner Ricardo Lara  says “climate change is going to continue to disrupt communities through extreme heat and weather and affect our insurance markets” so looking at different insurance models is critical for him as a regulator.

3 more deaths related to COVID-19 have been reported in Lake County. The Public Health Officer, Dr. Gary Pace sent out notice last night that the three were all residents of a skilled nursing facility in Lakeport. 7 patients from Lakeport Post Acute have now died due to the pandemic, for a total of 10 people in the county. Dr. Pace says the 3 new deaths were all people over 65 with chronic health conditions. So far 30 residents have become sick there. Dr. Pace didn’t name the facility, but Lake Co News reports the state did. There have been 433 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county. Right now 54 are active and three people are in the hospital. The state is getting close to 800,000 cases and nearly 15,000 deaths.

The latest on the August complex is just under 818,000 acres have burned and it’s still at 30% containment. The fire has destroyed 35 structures and one person has died, a Texas firefighter early on in the fight after the fire started a month ago.  The fire continues to burn across the Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests. There are three zones being managed by CAL FIRE and the US Forest Service. The South Zone includes the Doe Fire, the largest of the 3. It’s burned into northern Lake County, and has charred 531,471 acres. They’re having a virtual public meeting on this zone tonight on Facebook on the Mendocino National Forest’s Facebook page. Last night they did the same for the West Zone. There are still multiple evacuation warnings and orders in place.

A man accused of child molestation in Clearlake has his trial set. 70 year old Bert Tino Besio will have his Jury Trial next Wednesday, September 23rd. It’s expected to last about a week. At a preliminary hearing almost a year ago, enough evidence was brought in to bring the case to trial. Besio’s charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a minor, five counts of forcible lewd acts on a child and three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child after a yearlong investigation. He’s accused of acts against two victims under 13. He was arrested last summer and pleaded not guilty.  

Not a good idea to trick or tweet this year. The word from the state Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mark Ghaly. Dr. Ghaly says things are different this year than in the past. He says taking your kids door to door to get candy is ill-advised during the pandemic, but there’s been no official word from the state, straight out banning it. The Governor is reportedly clarifying that in days to come. But last week LA County is strictly banning some trick-or-treating and gatherings with non-household members even outdoors. Car parades, Halloween movie nights at drive-ins, Halloween-themed meals at outdoor restaurants, and Halloween decorations on homes are allowed.

Learning hubs are being created in Lake County to help students who aren’t in person in class. The Lake County Office of Education, the local school districts and partnering organizations working together for the hubs following all Public Health guidelines. The hubs will be open during certain hours, and include the Clearlake Youth Center, Lower Lake Museum, Spring Valley Community Center and Behavioral Health Offices. There, kids will have access to the Internet, a site and school district representative, and they may even have access to transportation and get some food.

The August Complex is the largest fire to ever burn in the state. It’s at almost 820,000 acres and remains 30% contained. There are three zones to the fire with acreage all updated today – South Zone 484,754 acres, 30% contained; North Zone 248,573 acres, 25% contained; West Zone 78,706 acres, 5% contained. The acreage has been decreased some after the Forest Service updated their mapping. The Complex includes the Elkhorn, Hopkins, Willow, Vinegar, and Doe fires, the Doe, the largest, over 500,000 in the history books itself. Both CAL FIRE and the Forest Service are working together on the massive Complex. There is no date of anticipated containment, but there is a possibility of some light rain tonight and tomorrow after weeks of record temperatures in severe drought conditions. The fire’s expected to continue moving toward Lake Pillsbury, and to the west beyond the Impassable Rock area.

The Governor has announced money going to counties in the first round of Homekey. With that Mendocino County got almost $9.7M from the $600 million program to purchase and rehabilitate housing, including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties, and convert them into permanent, long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. The County is negotiating to buy a motel on Orchard Ave. in Ukiah which will be used for transitional housing. The Governor announced Homekey in June, and in July made $600 million in funding available. $550M of that is going to cities and counties from federal Coronavirus Aid Relief Funds. $50 million more comes from the state to supplement the acquisition and provide initial operating funds.