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After massive fires burned for almost three weeks, the Bureau of Land Management in Ukiah is reopening areas of the Cache Creek Natural Area in Lake and Colusa counties. The BLM says due to reduced wildland fire danger, the areas in the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument are reopening for recreation today. They had closed the public lands across from the monument 2 ½ weeks ago after the LNU Lightning Complex fire started. No cars are being let in, but hiking, biking and horseback riding is allowed again. They’re not scarred by the fire. There are other areas still closed though, the Blue Ridge Trail, Fiske Creek Trail and Frog Pond Trail due to wildfire activity. The LNU Lightning Complex has burned more than more than 375,000 acres in six counties.

The CHP reminds they’ll be out on the roads looking for impaired or distracted drivers this long holiday weekend. They say drivers need to keep themselves safe and use caution behind the wheel, use your seatbelt, don’t get distracted, drive the speed limit and get a designated driver if you plan to drink. 45 people were killed in crashes in the state last year during the Labor Day holiday. The CHP says about 75% of the accidents where someone died, they were not wearing a seat belt. They say they also made over 1,000 DUI arrests.

Since we’re in another heat spell, with that, another warning from the California Independent System Operator there could be rolling outages. There’s a statewide Flex Alert starting tomorrow and lasting until Monday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. So we shouldn’t be using our appliances during those hours, and if you can stand it, turn your thermostat up a bit. It’s supposed be well over 100 degrees with Heat Warnings from the National Weather Service too. Daytime highs are expected to be 10 to 20 degrees above normal and overnight lows as much as 10 degrees higher than normal. There’s been no word so far from PG&E about possible public safety power shutoffs.

More people evacuated due to the massive LNU Lightning Complex fire, got to go home. The fire is now 86% contained. The biggest in the Complex, the Hennessey is also 85% contained after it blackened nearly 318,000 acres in Colusa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Yolo. Another section of the fire in Sonoma County, the Walbridge fire has 92% containment after scorching almost 55,000 acres.  Crews still working on holding containment lines ahead of the heat wave this weekend and although they’re letting some crews leave, they’re keeping more than they would in milder weather.  There are still 1,350 structures threatened. Almost 1,500 were destroyed, 8 homes here in Lake County.  

Some recreational areas along the Russian River are reopened as wildfire danger calms. Some Sonoma County parks and river beaches were closed during the Walbridge and Meyers fires, part of the LNU Lightning Complex. They’re reopened just in time for the heat wave this holiday weekend.  The National Weather Service had issued an excessive heat warning this weekend. Steelhead, Sunset and Forestville River Access beaches are all open. There are more rangers there to remind folks, we’re in the midst of a pandemic. They want to remind people to stay apart and help with traffic too. Masks are also required if you cannot maintain 6-feet distance away from others not in your immediate household.

A settlement’s been reached between the operator of two assisted living facilities and the state and local government after the homes abandoned about 100 frail residents in Santa Rosa during the October 2017 firestorm. Oakmont Senior Living in Windsor and two other companies which own and operate the Varenna and Villa Capri facilities were accused of not evacuating the residents who could not have gotten out themselves during the deadly Tubbs Fire. The complaint filed last year by the Sonoma County DA and state Attorney General. The companies have to pay out $500,000 and have to come up with a disaster and evacuation plan and train staff properly on evacuating. They will also be monitored by an outside company for five years.

Another injury to someone working on the Walbridge Fire, part of the LNU Lightning Complex. Firefighters in rugged terrain of W. Sonoma County when a tree trimmer had a stomach injury after falling yesterday. On Wednesday, another injury, that one for a National Guard soldier who fell 100 feet down a hill working on the same fire. A spokesperson with Cal Fire says they’re in steep areas where there are hazards like trees, rocks and places so rugged, they don’t have sturdy footing. The Press Democrat reports a foreman with PG&E had been with a tree-trimming company and reported someone had fallen from a tree. But the company has not confirmed that. The man’s injuries were said to be serious.

Another virtual townhall is set for renters and homeowners affected by the wildfires. The townhall today on wildfire assistance and insurance. The California Office of Emergency Services director, Insurance Commissioner and an insurance nonprofit will be in the meeting which starts at 1:30 live on the state’s Dept. of Insurance Facebook page. You do not need a Facebook account to view it.

The State Parks Dept. reminding to play ahead for the holiday weekend because many parks are closed this holiday weekend either because of the pandemic or wildfires. State beaches in Monterey County are closed and full or partial vehicle access for Santa Cruz and down south in Santa Barbara as folks get in their cars to vacation over the long weekend. The State Parks Director reminding residents to be responsible to help slow the spread of COVID-19, even in the outdoors. And say with those in your immediate household. So no large gatherings, picnics or parties. He says if there are too many people at a local outdoor destination to socially distance, or visit another time.

The Mendocino County Public Health office reporting on the continued case load saying it’s due to ongoing social gatherings and close living quarters, like apartment complexes. The office says that could mean a faster spread of the virus. A reminder too for the holiday weekend about previous holidays causing surges and outbreaks. The new Public Health Officer, Dr. Andy Coren says cases are starting to go down but we could have a setback from a holiday spike from extended family gatherings, parties, or because of folks living in close quarters. The office says there should be no social gatherings outside of your household of 6 unchanging people. Backyard gatherings of more than that can spread the virus. And all the rest of the restrictions we’ve come to expect, mask wearing, social distancing and good hand hygiene.

We have a new Evacuation Warning for Mendocino National Forest north of Hull Mountain in Mendocino County. A warning to be ready to leave and if you feel unsafe to leave immediately and not to wait. To monitor media and Nixle and not to call 911 for information, only for a life-threatening emergency.

PG&E reminding this weekend we have a heat warning and with that a Flex Alert from 3-9 pm each day. The utility company is urging customers to reduce energy use during those hours as “air conditioners drive consumption.” They remind if you conserve during those hours, others will be able to also use their air. TO avoid running your appliances during these hours, close your drapes and turn off unnecessary lights. The Flex Alert by the Independent System Operator is an urgent call to “conserve electricity and shift demand to off-peak hours.”

The Calif. Coastal Cleanup will look a little different this year, with a call to residents to clean their neighborhoods. The cleanup is every Saturday this month from 9am – noon, but volunteers are also encouraged to clean whenever is convenient if they can’t make it to a neighborhood cleanup during those hours. Last year more than 74,000 volunteers removed more than 900,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from 55 counties, the largest, single day volunteer event on the planet in the Guinness Book of World Records. Due to the pandemic, there’s no large centralized location. For more details: www.coastalcleanupday.org.

More containment on the major fires in Calif, less firefighters. 1,100 less firefighters on the ground of the 23 major fires and lightning complexes. Many evacuation orders and warnings lifted or downgraded since the lightning storm August 15th. There is however an extreme heat wave this weekend with expected triple digit temperatures. That led the  National Weather Service to issue an Excessive Heat Warning from Saturday to Tuesday for a lot of the state. Cal Fire urging residents to be extremely careful this weekend to prevent starting a fire. The fire danger is elevated in this weather. The LNU Complex has stopped forward movement and has more containment. It’s burned 375,209 acres and is 87% contained, the Hennessey, part of the Complex burned  317,909 acres, and is 88% contained, The Wallbridge at 54,940 acres is 93% contained
and the smallest of the Complex is 100% contained, the Meyers has scorched 2,360 acres.

Unemployment is up for the second week. After some improvement for several weeks, there’s a second wave that moves with the second wave of shutdowns because of the pandemic. More than 8 million Californians have filed since March. Another 237,000 filed last week, 40,000 more than a week before. But the number of claims in the country were down 130,000 from a week before. Last week in Calif. was the highest amount of claims since July 25th.  

The Governor has issued a state of emergency due to this weekend’s heatwave. The California Office of Emergency Services reports the Governor signed an emergency proclamation so there’s more energy capacity because of forecasts for extreme temperatures across the state. This allows power plants to generate more power, temporarily suspending some permitting requirements so the state’s energy grid can handle the demand. Violations of the requirements are reported to local authorities and state regulators. 

The state Employment Development Department could potentially be audited after complaints that some people are still awaiting payment after filing claims all the way back in March. A Republican state senator in Riverside County says one of her constituents told her he hasn’t received any money and can’t get anyone on the phone. Senator Melissa Melendez says it’s unacceptable. She says another told her he got more than 100 envelopes from the unemployment office to his home even though he had a job and never applied. The envelopes she says, were addressed to more than 300 people and some had debit cards in them. The unemployment dept. says there have been an onslaught of fraud attempts since the pandemic started. A bright spot though, next week the department will add another $300 to the weekly unemployment benefit for those who have claims.

There’s an Evacuation Warning for all Mendocino County in the Mendocino National Forest, north of Hull Mountain. There are vacation homes and primary residences along with undeveloped private lands threatened by the August Complex fire in the National Forest. Residents are asked to be ready to leave. The Forest Service reports there’s a shift in wind coming Monday and Tuesday which could bring more fire activity to the Complex. The Hull, Doe, Tatham, and Glade fires are all one large fire. And more firefighters are being brought to the more active parts of the Complex. So far it’s burned nearly 298,300 acres and is 23% contained.

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