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More homes destroyed by wildfires in Northern Calif. In Sonoma, the Glass Fire, which just started on Sunday and is burning in the scars of 3 previous massive fires in the last 3 years, has taken down 36 homes. CAL FIRE reports 31 more have been damaged by the fire which has burned nearly 51,300 acres and is still only 2% contained. It’s threatening another 26,000 structures. CAL FIRE says the number destroyed or damaged is probably lagging as they’ve not been able to totally survey the area, it’s a guestimate. 12 two-person damage inspection teams were out combing through the wreckage yesterday for a second day.

CAL FIRE reports trying to keep the Glass Fire away from the same area devastated 3 years ago by the massive Tubbs Fire which took down more than 5,000 homes. Bulldozers are cutting lines to keep the fire away as some homes have just been rebuilt. But a return of high winds is expected today which would hopefully push the flames to where the fire is already burning instead of making a run to the west. There’s a Red Flag warning today until 6 pm for the area. In Mendocino and Lake too, possible wind gusts of up to 25 mph in this afternoon until tomorrow night. It should be pretty hot today too, with humidity only in the teens.

PG&E reports on their needed Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events saying they’re on top of the matter, in a new way. The utility says they’ve installed new equipment on lines to limit the size of outages, prepared substations to receive generators to keep power on in some areas, improved weather modeling for more accurate forecasts. And to make the events shorter, they have more helicopters, added a couple airplanes equipped with infrared cameras that can patrol at night and they’re sending out utility company crews for inspection and restoration and using other utility companies for mutual assistance. They’re updating their notification system, have an improved website and dedicated more help to customers with medical or independent living needs, who are low income, and/or have limited English proficiency

A man in Clearlake Oaks has been arrested on drug charges after a traffic stop. The Lake County Sheriff’s Dept. reports a patrol officer say a Toyota Rav4 east on Hwy. 20 driving above the posted speed limit and stopped the SUV finding the driver, Mehir Patel, of Charlotte, North Carolina who said he was visiting friends in Willits and was headed home. The officer says he smelled weed in the vehicle. But the man told the deputy there was no marijuana with him. Finally he admitted, he had about 30 pounds in the car and he was headed to LA to sell the weed. The officer found about 32 individually wrapped one pound packages of marijuana and $151,000 cash in a suitcase. He was arrested, but not booked into jail due to the pandemic. The marijuana and money was taken though. The case has been sent to the DA for possible charges.

The August Complex, burning on the Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests is just under 949,700 acres. The containment has creeped up some, but there’s a Red Flag weather warning today. The fire was 47-percent contained as of last night. The fire grew nearly 12,000 acres since Tuesday night. There are 3 zones, the South Zone is burning in Lake County. Land in Colusa, Glenn, Humboldt, Mendocino, Tehama and Trinity counties has also been charred.

A man from Clearlake accused of sexually assaulting a minor has had his case continued. The Deputy DA on the case against 70 year old Bert Tino Besio asked for the continuance as they’re on another jury trial; and the defense did not object. Besio’s charged with aggravated sexual assault of a minor, five counts of forcible lewd acts upon a child and three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The case will now start on Wednesday and Besio must be there in person. The case had been set for January, then August after he was arraigned last fall. Two victims under the age of 13 say they were molested by Besio who was arrested in July of last year. He pleaded not guilty and denied the special allegations.  

A statewide Flex Alert has been called by the California Independent System Operator. It’s today between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. as there are high temperatures forecast along with a Red Flag weather warning. The grid alert announced last night ahead of a possible electricity shortage today, asking for Restricted Maintenance Operations all day today from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. With the Flex Alert they ask consumers to turn off unnecessary lights, delay major appliance use until after 10 p.m., and set your air conditioner to 78 degrees or higher. They say that’ll help the power grid during tight demand and supply and avoid power interruptions.

PM NEWS

Two nursing homes in east Santa Rosa that have not had any COVID cases for months had to evacuate due to the Glass Fire. Now the Public Health Officer in Sonoma County says she’s concerned the infections could rise after the emergency evacuations. The Press Democrat reports Spring Lake Village and Summerfield Healthcare Center were evacuated Sunday with residents sent to different locations. Dr. Sundari Mase says there’s strict guidance for screening at the emergency shelters and evacuation centers regarding the virus. Apparently it’s the first time some of the residents have been near or around other people because of how nursing homes are being ravaged by the virus.

There have been more cases of COVID-19 identified in Mendocino County, bringing the total to 964 And another death has also been reported. Beginning Sunday anyone can get a test at the OptumServe Testing Site, open Sunday – Thursday 7 AM – 7 PM at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds.  

CAL FIRE personnel on the August Complex Fire have reported crime related to illegal cannabis growers. The Sheriff says at least one time firefighters reported being robbed of a water pump essential so they can do their jobs, a water pump stolen last Monday, September 28, along Mina Road outside of Round Valley. Firefighters were reportedly confronted by illegal cannabis growers who demanded their water tenders be used to water illegal cannabis gardens. The Sheriff got a report by CAL FIRE personnel who said no and continued doing their work. They say when they came back to the site again, they found their gas-powered water pump was gone.

Looks like the east side of the South Zone of the August Complex is still pretty well contained and being monitored. Crews in the Lake Pillsbury region and to the west checking control lines, felled hazard trees along roads, and retrieved equipment that was no longer necessary. They’ve moved some engines elsewhere. There are still evacuations in the area for both Mendocino and Lake counties.  In the North Zone firefighters say they’re challenged by people who aren’t leaving their homes. An Evacuation Order in Calif. is known as a lawful order due to a threat to life. A warning means there’s a potential threat to life or property. There were new orders from both the Trinity and Humboldt County Sheriff’s Departments.

There’s a Red Flag Warning through of Friday for the North and South Bay, Central Mendocino County, Western Monterey County and most of the Los Padres National Forest for gusty winds and low humidity. Some of the most devastating fires usually happen in September and October due to this type of weather. The August Fire has burned another 5,000 or so acres this morning, but the containment grew about 6% to 51%.  South Zone 489,380 acres, 70% contained; North Zone 346,156 acres, 35% contained; West Zone 119,977 acres, 65% contained.

It looks like the Sheriff’s Dept. has caught a third person suspected of involvement in a strong arm robbery in Willits last Sunday. Jaime Rodriguez was caught due to a traffic violation. Mendocino deputies say he had about 8 pounds of packaged cannabis in his car which they found because he’s on parole and a search is allowed. They say he also had a large amount of cash on him. There had been a third man who was suspected to be part of an incident where two people were tied up, one was shot when he tried to run away. Two drivers high tailed it out of the area and were caught, one got away. When officers went to arrest one of the two caught they found he’d shot himself in the head. Now Rodriguez is busted and charged in the case with burglary, possession of stolen property and criminal conspiracy, he’s held on no bail.

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