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An open letter warning about fire dangers in the Historic Preservation District of Mendocino has been released by the Mendocino Fire Suppression Coalition. The letter also outlines what should be done to avoid fires in the area as it’s surrounded by State Park property. That means any mitigation efforts have to go through the state of Calif. Parks Dept. The Advocate Newspaper reports the landscape is riddled with brush and grass that has already fueled catastrophic wildfires. The coalition writes that the hazard needs to be eliminated by putting crews from State Parks and Parlin Forks to work clearing away the hazard this winter.

Prop. 15 on the ballot to change how commercial property is taxed based not on old, but current land value. Currently property taxes are based on the value of the land purchased by businesses, but the initiative would change it to current parcel value. So land owners like Intel, who reportedly bought a lot of the property it owns for a pittance would see huge increases in property taxes. It would pre-date 1978’s Prop 13. Supporters say it’ll help close corporate loopholes, and opponents say it could be devastating to Calif.’s economy, because the state is already too expensive for businesses to operate in.

The Glass Fire is getting very close to total containment. As of yesterday, two weeks after the fire started, it’s now 95% contained. The expectation for 100% containment is this Wednesday, just before another heatwave hits the state. Light rain and much higher humidity helped firefighters over the weekend, but officials say they continue to monitor the weather which could change to extreme fire weather later in the week. And PG&E is warning there could be Public Safety Power Shut-Offs so their equipment doesn’t start any wildfires. Winds expected to gust up to 50 mph in the North Bay mountains and the Northern Sierra Nevada starting Wednesday night. The Glass fire has burned 67,484-acres and destroyed 338 homes in Sonoma County and 308 homes in Napa County. More than 160 other homes have been damaged.  

The August Complex Fire continues to burn, but firefighters are slowly getting a foothold on the monster fire that has burned well over one million acres. The fire being fought in four zones, with firefighters from other states joining the fight and as many as 1,800 firefighters engaged in the fight, just on the West Zone. That Zone has burned over 140,420 acres and is 75% contained, the August itself has burned nearly 1,030,000 acres and is 74% contained. The fire will spew smoke that can be seen from Covelo where there are active firing operations. There are still evacuation warnings and orders for the West Zone for both Lake and Mendocino counties.

The North Zone of the fire has left a scar covering 318,380 acres. It’s 92 percent contained. Firefighters report weather in their favor over the weekend with increased humidity and a slight mist. We don’t have numbers for yesterday’s activity yet, but there were reports of 20-25 mph winds ahead of more fire weather expected by mid-week. The National Weather Service reports warmer temperatures are expected through Saturday. Fire officials also say their daily briefings will stop and instead they’ll update us every other day instead.

Another death from coronavirus has been reported in Lake County. The Public Health Officer made the announcement over the weekend, that a 13th person had died. Dr. Gary Pace reports the individual was over 65 years old and had longstanding health issues.  It was within a 2nd facility-based outbreak, where 27 residents were infected and 9 staff members. Another outbreak, at a different facility, is now under control, Pace says, with no new cases in 10 days.  The public health office reported a surge of new cases in mid-September from nursing facilities, evacuations from the LNU Complex fire and Labor Day weekend activities.

A man from Willits reported missing, and his family says it’s “totally out of character for him”. 69 year old Jim Whetstone’s daughter reports dad vanished on Friday morning while everyone else in their house slept. Sophia Martinez says her dad’s phone, wallet, and house key were left behind and his phone has not received any unknown phone calls or messages. She also notes that Whetstone was seen by another family member looking out a window like he was waiting for someone, and he not had any sort of depression and a birthday party to go to over the weekend. She also says he has a registered firearm but it was still locked in a safe. He’s described as 5’10”, 200 lbs, White/Gray hair, and blue eyes.  

A man on a motorcycle’s been arrested after a traffic stop yielded loads of meth. Ukiah police report an officer was in the Safeway Parking lot in the 650 block of S. State Street and saw the Honda motorcycle speed by so he took chase. The driver, Michael Gray was spotted doing a “wheelie.” He was caught soon after a brief high speed chase in a field. Gray hit a hole and was tossed from his bike. He was taken to a hospital for treatment then arrested. The officer found about 46 grams of meth packaged for sale. He was to be released without bail though due to the pandemic, but the DA was requesting a $75,000.00 bail, which was granted.

A woman reported missing last week has been found. The Sheriff’s office reports getting a call Thursday afternoon that 72 year old Sharon Bear was missing about 8-miles east of Fort Bragg. Deputies say the person who reported her missing called from the Jackson State Forest where firewood cutting is currently permitted. The person was apparently friends with Bear and they made plans to meet to cut firewood, but Bear called the friend to say she had gotten stuck and was lost. They reported her as at risk due to medical related issues. So rescuers went to the area, but couldn’t access the area where she was lost, but did find her car stuck in heavy brush. They sent a police dog out to track her with no luck. Finally on Saturday she was found alive. No word on her condition as of this morning.

A man and woman in Fort Bragg have been arrested for burglary and conspiracy. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s office reports seeing a car in front of an empty house so they went to check it out.  Sean Hilliard and Frankie Lemus-Cortez found in the vehicle which was “unusually overloaded with property”. The investigating Deputy found that the female Lemus-Cortez went into one of two homes on the property to use the bathroom, another home had a door forced open. Deputies found the car was stolen from one of the two residences as was the contents inside. Hilliard and Lemus-Cortez were arrested for second degree burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime.  Hilliard was also arrested for violating his probation.  They were both held in jail on $50,000.00 bail. 

A man from Covelo has been arrested on drug and weapons charges after a tip to deputies. The Sheriff’s Dept. reports getting a call Saturday after two people say they saw Tiny Whipple showing a firearm. He was seen in a silver 4 door sedan traveling towards downtown Covelo then found sitting in a silver Nissan Altima. When deputies confronted him they saw an AK type firearm with a large capacity magazine next to him, but he was sleeping. Deputies tried to get the firearm away from him but say he resisted and tried to fight with them. They managed to cuff him as he continued resisting. The two deputies had some minor injuries trying to wrestle with him, one needed medical attention. Whipple already had warrants for his arrest, so he was held in jail on various charges including felon possessing a firearm, resist law enforcement with violence and for violating probation. His bail was set at $250,000.00 bail.

The August Complex fire has had more work done by scientists on the burn on the south side of the burn. The Burned Area Emergency Response specialists finished their work and have put together their Soil Burn Severity map showing Unburned/Very Low, Low, Moderate, and High. The work on the 521,256 acres were analyzed by the team. The team looking for expected soil erosion, accelerated surface water run-off, and debris flows that could harm human life and the environment. Forest Service scientists and specialists consider emergency stabilization options for the burn area on National Forest Service lands.

A man from Ukiah has been arrested after a woman ends up in the hospital injured after a domestic dispute. Mendocino deputies got a call to Adventist Health Ukiah Valley October 3rd before midnight and found a 42 year-old female who says her boyfriend Leonel Valenzuela assaulted her. They say she had visible injuries, plus she was pregnant at the time, and says Valenzuela held her against her will. Deputies went to his home and since he was on probation he was immediately arrested. While there, deputies found a short-barreled assault weapon which he was not allowed to have due to his criminal history. He was arrested on multiple charges including domestic violence battery, possession of short barrel rifle and false imprisonment and held on $25,000.00 bail.

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