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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

How Much Do Wildfires Really Cost California’s Economy?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 13, 2021 at 9:31 AM

Cook Martha Garcia preps food in the kitchen at Verde Mexican Rotisserie in South Lake Tahoe on Oct. 6, 2021. Domi Chavarria, the owner of Verde Mexican Rotisserie, lost about $10K worth of inventory when they shut down for two weeks due to the Caldor Fire evacuation. - SALGU WISSMATH FOR CALMATTERS
  • Salgu Wissmath for CalMatters
  • Cook Martha Garcia preps food in the kitchen at Verde Mexican Rotisserie in South Lake Tahoe on Oct. 6, 2021. Domi Chavarria, the owner of Verde Mexican Rotisserie, lost about $10K worth of inventory when they shut down for two weeks due to the Caldor Fire evacuation.
Not a single structure burned down in the city of South Lake Tahoe. And yet, the threat of the fast approaching Caldor Fire cost surrounding El Dorado County tens of millions of dollars, if not more.

In South Lake Tahoe, Domi ​​Chavarria, co-owner of Verde Mexican Rotisserie, felt the devastation of the Caldor Fire even before the city was evacuated in August. Smoke had blanketed the city, and the tourists had mostly left. When the evacuation orders came down, Verde was stocked with food, almost all of which went bad during the more than two weeks the restaurant ultimately remained closed. Produce wilted; proteins went bad; prepared sauces couldn’t be used.

“All that stuff, none of that’s made to last weeks — it’s all made the last days,” says Chavarria. He estimates the lost inventory was worth between $10,000 and $13,000. None of it was covered by his insurance.

Losses like Chavarria’s add up — to at least $50.3 million in lost economic activity for El Dorado County, according to an initial estimate shared with CalMatters.

Food inventory from the Verde Mexican Rotisserie restaurant had to be discarded after a 2 week evacuation order due to the Caldor Fire in South Lake Tahoe. Domi Chavarria, the owner of Verde Mexican Rotisserie, lost about $10K worth of inventory when they shut down for two weeks due to the Caldor Fire evacuation. Photo courtesy of Domi Chavarria.
Food inventory from the Verde Mexican Rotisserie restaurant had to be discarded after a two-week evacuation order due to the Caldor Fire in South Lake Tahoe. Photo courtesy of Domi Chavarria.

Knowing the true cost of wildfires could spur more ambitious action from both government and the private sector, experts say. For instance, tracking the costs systematically over several years could help policymakers figure out which fire prevention and mitigation strategies are most cost effective.

But right now, California has an incomplete understanding of how much wildfires cost the state each year.

The costs of business disruption, the cost of damage to uninsured homes, the cost of ecosystem damage, and the cost of secondary health impacts — such as those caused by wildfire smoke — aren’t being tracked.

Right now, we don’t have a comprehensive picture of the economic harm wildfires cause each year, according to Teresa Feo, senior science officer at the California Council on Science and Technology and lead author of a 2020 report from the council on the cost of wildfires in California.

“There isn’t a statewide systematic tracking effort to figure out these costs,” says Feo. She said it took only about a month of digging into the question to realize: ”Oh no, you can’t come up with a number, this is actually impossible with the existing data.”

The state does not track or estimate the cost of wildfires in a way that accounts for public health costs or ecological damage on a regular basis, confirmed Heather Williams, communications director for California Natural Resources Agency. “Those would always be a moving target since health impacts can occur years later. But with more research being funded, this may be more feasible to help the state better understand the economic and ecological impacts so we can continue to make science-based informed policy decisions,” Williams wrote in an email.

The different costs of wildfires

The initial analysis of the Caldor Fire’s economic impact was prepared by Tom Harris, an economist at the University of Nevada, Reno, for the Tahoe Prosperity Center, an economic development organization for the Lake Tahoe Basin. It estimates the combined losses of El Dorado and Nevada’s Douglas County at $93 million. And, says Harris, that preliminary estimate is low: It doesn’t include the losses in sectors like rental homes or recreation businesses. Nor does it include the lost economic activity caused by residents evacuating, and it doesn’t take into account the healthcare costs associated with wildfire smoke exposure.

Some costs are more immediate — the cost of Chavarria’s rotted food, for instance, and the fact that the fire took place over Labor Day weekend.

Domi Chavarria poses for a portrait at his restaurant Verde Mexican Rotisserie in South Lake Tahoe on Oct. 6, 2021. Domi Chavarria, the owner of Verde Mexican Rotisserie, lost about $10K worth of inventory when they shut down for two weeks due to the Caldor Fire evacuation. Salgu Wissmath for CalMatters
Domi Chavarria poses for a portrait at his restaurant Verde Mexican Rotisserie in South Lake Tahoe on Oct. 6, 2021. Photo by Salgu Wissmath for CalMatters

“That’s not a slow weekend in Tahoe,” says Chavarria. Tourism is about 63 percent of the Tahoe basin’s economy, according to a 2018 report from Tahoe Prosperity Center.

Between the slowdown in business due to smoke and the evacuation, Verde lost several weeks of revenue. Chavarria says that a month of sales for the restaurant is more than $100,000. Verde’s employees also went without paychecks for the two weeks the restaurant was shut down.

Nicole Smith, co-founder and taproom manager of South Lake Brewing Company, said her business fared better than many, partially because none of the beer went bad. But between the loss of sales in the company’s own taproom and the beer it sells to other local businesses, the brewery lost somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 of revenue during the evacuation, estimates Smith.

In addition to lost business, some figures are easier to pin down, like the amount Cal Fire spends on fire suppression.

But the state, for example, does not systematically track deaths and health conditions linked to wildfire smoke exposure. The costs associated with smoke may be the largest costs we’re missing, says Feo. One study produced by public health department researchers and academics tracked the use of Medi-Cal services during San Diego’s 2007 fall fire season. It found that during the peak fire period, emergency room visits for respiratory conditions increased by 34 percent and visits for asthma increased by 113 percent. Especially concerning was a 136 percent increase in ER visits for children four and younger for asthma. That finding, the authors wrote, “is cause for particular concern because of the potential for long-term harm to children’s lung development.”

A systematic effort to track wildfire smoke effects would be especially profound, says Feo, because it reaches so far beyond the location of the fire. In 2018, for example, smoke from the Camp Fire clogged San Francisco, a city more than a 100 miles away. If you can put figures on the impact of smoke across the whole state, “who’s impacted by the fire suddenly changes very dramatically, and therefore who benefits from the prevention and mitigation changes,” she said.

Different approaches to wildfire data

The current approach to assessing the aftermath of wildfires is a hodgepodge of research looking into different aspects that is not led by any one agency.

A smattering of data collection efforts includes:

  • The California Air Resources Board is funding a study of the health impact of wildfire smoke statewide for 2017, 2018 and 2020, which will be ready in three or four years;
  • The board is also funding a study of lost work days due to wildfire smoke, which will be ready in a couple of years;
  • Cal Fire is also increasing funding for research into forest health;
  • The Department of Insurance tabulates the damage to insured homes for some major wildfires, but does not track damage from all wildfires each year;
  • And a variety of academic studies.

Academic research on the cost of wildfires tends to come out several years later, and different studies focus on different fires using different methodologies. That makes it difficult to compare the findings, or track the costs over time.

These studies are also conducted based on the interests of the particular researcher, says Louise Comfort, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and a faculty affiliate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society Policy Lab. “That doesn’t give us a comprehensive view,” Comfort says. She credits an UC-system wide effort to study the impacts of wildfires as a step in the right direction, but says the results are still not coming in in a standardized way.

The state may be in the best position to lead the effort on tracking the economic impact of wildfires. “The only thing that would give us a comprehensive view is if the state really said, ‘We want this kind of information,” says Comfort. But the state agencies shouldn’t go it alone, she says, they should engage experts in the university system.

Cook Isaura Martinez preps food in the kitchen at Verde Mexican Rotisserie in South Lake Tahoe on Oct. 6, 2021. Domi Chavarria, the owner of Verde Mexican Rotisserie, lost about $10K worth of inventory when they shut down for two weeks due to the Caldor Fire evacuation. Salgu Wissmath for CalMatters
Cook Isaura Martinez preps food in the kitchen at Verde Mexican Rotisserie in South Lake Tahoe on Oct. 6, 2021. Photo by Salgu Wissmath for CalMatters

Without statewide, systematically published numbers, it’s more difficult to compare how different regions are suffering from wildfires, or to assess the cost effectiveness of different wildfire prevention strategies. And it may be more challenging to justify spending on expensive, but nonetheless cost-effective, mitigation or prevention programs.

That’s a question that comes up when talking about spending taxpayer dollars, Feo said.

While wildfire costs aren’t tracked, there are some academic studies that attempt to estimate those costs and produce mind boggling figures. In 2020, for example, a team of researchers studied the nationwide impact of California’s 2018 wildfire season, and estimated that its economic damage totaled $148.5 billion.

The study, published in Nature Sustainability, captured direct capital costs, such as buildings burning down; health costs, including those related to air pollution exposure; and indirect losses such as the economic disruption of lost hours working, as well as disruption to regional and national supply chains.

The costs identified in that study exceed that of any disaster in the U.S. between the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, other than Hurricane Katrina, says Adam Rose, a research professor at University of Southern California and an expert in energy and environmental economics.

Rose said that a standardized methodology for assessing the total cost of wildfires should be established and applied on a regular basis — and it needs to be one that can be implemented relatively rapidly, as opposed to several years after a fire. That would allow a whole field of researchers to help track these costs, and would make their findings comparable. In addition to helping make the political case for government-led fire-prevention efforts, those numbers might spur private sector action on fire prevention efforts.

But not all experts said that measuring the costs associated with each wildfire season is important. William Siembieda, a professor emeritus at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and senior member of a Cal Poly team that prepared several of the state’s annual hazard mitigation plans, says he doesn’t know how policymakers would make use of those numbers.

What would be useful, Siembieda says, is for cities to model the economic impact of different levels of fire damage. What would be the cost if 5 percent of the city burned? What if 10 percent or 20 percent burned?

With those estimates, local officials could decide whether they’re prepared to eat that loss, insure against the risk, or pursue other strategies.

What’s next for victims?

For a couple weeks now, South Lake Tahoe residents and business owners have been reopening their restaurants, shops, and adventure outfits, taking stock of what happened. When Lisa Schafer, co-owner of Wildwood Makers Market, returned to the city and drove to her shop for the first time, she felt waves of different emotions. There was the fear she’d been holding on to — that her hometown, her house, and her business would all burn to a crisp. There was the gratitude she felt for the fact that they had all been spared.

“I cried the whole drive,” she said.

Her shop, which sells jewelry, wall decor, embroidery kits and other gifts, smelled smoky for her first few days back. It wasn’t a pleasant campfire smell; “it smelled like beef jerky.”

Business didn’t return to normal immediately; tourists didn’t rush back to the area. All told, Shafer lost about 60 percent of sales in September. Her insurance won’t cover that loss of business.

It’s clear, she says, that these fires are not going away. She said she wishes there were some sort of automatic aid for businesses and individuals impacted by the fire.

Ultimately, Wildwood Makers Market will bounce back from loss of business, Schafer said. But if something happens in the winter that disrupts the holiday shopping season, that could be “catastrophic,” she says. “One more hit would not be good for us.”

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Monday, October 11, 2021

Sheriff's Office Investigating Suspicious Death in Blue Lake

Posted By on Mon, Oct 11, 2021 at 8:51 AM


The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death of a man found by a trail near Taylor Way and the Mad River Levee in Blue Lake just before 1 p.m. on Sunday.

According to a news release, the man's death is under investigation by  Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Division and is considered to be suspicious.

This is the second death reported in the area this month. On Sept. 11, the body of 65-year-old Blue Lake resident Eugene Steven Segal, who died of blunt force trauma and stab wounds, was found near Hatchery Road. His death has been deemed a homicide.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.

Read the HCSO release below:
On October. 10, 2021, at approximately 12:51 p.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the area of Taylor Way near the Mad River Levee in Blue Lake for the report of a deceased male near the trail close by the levee. Upon arrival to the area, deputies located a deceased male adult. The man’s cause of death is still under investigation and is considered suspicious at this time. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Division is investigating this case. Further information will be released when available and appropriate. Anyone with information about this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.
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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Eureka Resident, 35, Identified as Man Fatally Shot Last Week by CHP

Posted By on Thu, Sep 16, 2021 at 3:50 PM

The Sept. 9 scene of a police shooting of Charles Chivrell on Mad River Road. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • The Sept. 9 scene of a police shooting of Charles Chivrell on Mad River Road.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office today identified the man fatally shot on Mad River Road as 35-year-old Eureka resident Charles David Chivrell, who died after being struck by a single round from a CHP rifle, according to an incident update.

According to the HCSO release, CHP officer Michael Griffin, who has eight years of experience with the agency, fired the shot after Chivrell raised his firearm in the direction of officers after an Arcata Police Department officer deployed a less-than lethal pepper ball gun.

The shooting is being investigated by the Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team and the findings will be forwarded to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.

Officers from the California Highway Patrol and APD responded to the rural section of the Arcata Bottoms just before 11 a.m. last week on a report of a man walking in the area with a gun in a holster on his hip.

According to the release, Chivrell did not follow officers’ instructions to stop before the shooting took place. At the scene on Sept. 9, Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said officers had been using de-escalation techniques for 15 minutes.

Multiple people who live along the road told the Journal that day that they saw a slow procession of officers — some walking alongside creeping patrol cars with guns drawn taking cover behind their passenger-side doors, and others in their vehicles — following Chivrell, urging him to drop a briefcase he was carrying and follow their commands. But he reportedly did not comply and kept walking, at times walking backward while talking to the officers, telling them to leave him alone.

“Officer Griffin and other officers from the CHP and Arcata Police Department followed Mr. Chivrell down the road for approximately one mile, attempting verbal de-escalation to gain compliance,” the HCSO release states. “Mr. Chivrell stopped a few times and spoke to the officers during this process. However, he refused the commands of the peace officers and he continued to walk on Mad River Road away from the officers. During the times when Mr. Chivrell was speaking with the officers, he made threats toward peace officers and members of the public.”

After Chivrell was shot, officers administered first aid until an ambulance arrived, the release states. He died at the hospital.

Video footage “from multiple body-worn cameras and dash cameras that captured the incident from various perspectives,” will be released by the California Highway Patrol “as soon as it can be done without compromising the integrity of the investigation,” according to the release.

Assembly Bill 748, which went into effect in July of 2019, requires law enforcement agencies, with limited exceptions, to release video footage of shootings and other use-of-force incidents in which police cause "great bodily harm" to a suspect within 45 days of the incident.

Read the full HCSO release below:

On Thursday, September 9, 2021, a California Highway Patrol Officer was involved in an officer involved shooting in the area of the 1000 block of Mad River Road, in the unincorporated area of Arcata. The Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) is investigating this incident.

This incident update (#2) is to provide a more in-depth release of information. In alignment with Humboldt County CIRT’s transparency protocol, this update provides the name of the California Highway Patrol officer involved, the name of the decedent and additional incident details.

California Highway Patrol Officer: Michael Griffin, 8 years of service with the California Highway Patrol

Decedent: Charles David Chivrell, 35-year-old Eureka resident

At approximately 10:47 a.m., multiple officers with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Arcata Police Department responded to the area of Heindon Road and Miller Road for the report of a man walking in the roadway with a firearm. The CHP received the initial call and requested assistance from the Arcata Police Department.     

California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Griffin, accompanied by an officer in training, attempted to contact Mr. Chivrell in the roadway. During this time, Mr. Chivrell was observed to be in possession of a handgun holstered on his person.

Officers requested that Mr. Chivrell yield for a pedestrian stop. Mr. Chivrell disregarded this request, continuing to walk northbound on Mad River Road. By failing to stop, Mr. Chivrell violated a misdemeanor obstruction, delaying a police officer. 

Officer Griffin and other officers from the CHP and Arcata Police Department followed Mr. Chivrell down the road for approximately one mile, attempting verbal de-escalation to gain compliance. Mr. Chivrell stopped a few times and spoke to the officers during this process. However, he refused the commands of the peace officers and he continued to walk on Mad River Road away from the officers. During the times when Mr. Chivrell was speaking with the officers, he made threats toward peace officers and members of the public.

In the 1000 block of Mad River Road, an Arcata Police Department officer deployed a less-lethal pepper ball gun to gain compliance from Mr. Chivrell. Following the deployment of the pepper ball gun, Mr. Chivrell withdrew his firearm and raised the firearm in the direction of the peace officers. Officer Griffin fired one shot with his CHP department-issued patrol rifle. Mr. Chivrell was struck once. Officers on scene provided first aid to Mr. Chivrell and called in Emergency Medical Services. Mr. Chivrell was transported to an area hospital where he was declared deceased.  

This case is under investigation by Humboldt County CIRT investigators. All findings will be forwarded to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office for review.

Video footage exists from multiple body-worn cameras and dash cameras that captured the incident from various perspectives. All of the video footage will be released by the California Highway Patrol as soon as it can be done without compromising the integrity of the investigation, in accordance with the guidelines set forth in the California Government Code and recently revised per AB 748. 

Anyone with information about this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.

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Monday, September 13, 2021

Knob Fire 100 Percent Contained as Hopkins Fire Takes a Toll in Mendocino (with Video)

Posted By on Mon, Sep 13, 2021 at 10:24 AM

A Sept. 12 picture of the Hopkins Fire looking east in the area of Moore Street and Eastside Calpella Road in Calpella. - MENDOCINO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Mendocino County Sheriff's Office
  • A Sept. 12 picture of the Hopkins Fire looking east in the area of Moore Street and Eastside Calpella Road in Calpella.
The Knob Fire, which broke out near Willow Creek, is officially 100 percent contained with all evacuation orders and warnings lifted over the weekend as others in the region grow and a new one started in Calpella in Mendocino County, threatening some 200 structures with others reported to have been destroyed.

With fires raging across the region and resources already stretched very thin, the U.S. Forest Service has temporarily closed nine National Forests, including Klamath, Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers.

Here's a brief look at each of the first burning near Humboldt and what you need to know.

The Fires

The Hopkins Fire, 257 acres, 20 percent contained

Located at Hopkins and North State streets in Calpella in Mendocino County, the Hopkins Fire started Sept. 12 by undetermined causes. A Damage Inspection Team has been requested, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

"Overnight, firefighters made good progress with the assistance of lower temperatures and higher humidity," this morning's update states. "Firefighters on the ground as well as aircraft will continue to actively work to suppress the fire. A damage assessment team has been requested to survey the fire area to determine how many structures have been damaged or destroyed. We ask that the public heed all evacuation orders and warnings."

Evacuation orders have been issued for the Calpella area in the vicinity of 2RWV07, 2RWV09, 2RWV10, 2UKV26, 2UKV08, 2UKV13. Mandatory evacuation for the area of Road 144 to 50000 block of eastside of Calpella.

An evacuation center has been set up at theMendocino County Office of Education, 2240 Old River Road, in Ukiah and a large animal shelter site at the Redwood Empire Fair Grounds, 1055 State St. and the Ukiah Mendocino County Animal Shelter on Plant Road in Ukiah.

For the latest information, click here.


Continue reading »

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Friday, September 10, 2021

FOURTH UPDATE: Suspect in McKinleyville Standoff Surrenders

Posted By on Fri, Sep 10, 2021 at 12:06 PM

Mulitple law enforcement agencies are on scene. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • Mulitple law enforcement agencies are on scene.

FOURTH UPDATE:

A McKinleyville standoff involving an armed Arcata man who was being sought by authorities ended just before 1:30 p.m. after Matthew Dilley surrendered his gun and was later taken into custody.

A shelter in place advisory from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office that went out to local residents has been lifted.

According to HCSO spokesperson Samantha Karges, a citizen reported Dilley in the area, which is near Sutter Road, and a deputy on patrol was able to locate him around 10 a.m. When Dilley refused to drop his gun, a large law enforcement response was called in and the standoff began.

As part of the negotiations with Dilley, he was promised a Sprite, a can of chew and something to eat before being taken to the jail, which Karges says the sheriff's office is making good on before he is booked.

THIRD UPDATE:

Suspect in the McKinleyville standoff has surrendered the gun and is detained. The shelter in place advisory has been lifted.


SECOND UPDATE:

A witness in a residence near the scene reports officers have a man, who is armed with a handgun outside of a Sandpiper Lane house, at rifle point and are in negotiations with him.

UPDATE:

Law enforcement appears to have a home between Hideaway Court and Sandpiper Lane, which is located behind an apartment building, surrounded in a standoff with a man wanted on numerous charges.

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, Eureka Police Department and CHP are on scene. The SWAT team is on standby. At least one woman has been escorted from the area, according to reports at the scene.

A reverse 911 was sent out to local residents.

PREVIOUS:
dilley.jpg
McKinleyville residents on Sandpiper Lane are being asked to stay inside and take cover "due to the threat of possible gunfire" as Humboldt County Sheriff's Office deputies attempt to bring a wanted man into custody.

According to Facebook post, there "is an active law enforcement investigation in the area of Sutter Road as deputies attempt to apprehend wanted fugitive Matthew Dilley."

Residents in the area are asked "not open your doors to strangers and call law enforcement if you observe any suspicious activity."

Dilley, who is believed to be armed, is wanted on a Ramey Warrant for charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment, battery with serious injury, assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, domestic violence, stalking, exhibiting a deadly weapon and vandalism.

Dilley is described as white male adult, 5 feet 8 inches tall, approximately 175 pounds, last seen wearing a white shirt, gray sweatshirt and dark pants.

He evaded deputies in a high-speed chase yesterday morning and abandoned his vehicle near North Bank Road.
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Thursday, September 9, 2021

3rd UPDATE: Man Shot by Police Died at the Hospital

Posted By on Thu, Sep 9, 2021 at 12:25 PM

Scene of the shooting in the Arcata Bottoms. - THAD GREENSON
  • Thad Greenson
  • Scene of the shooting in the Arcata Bottoms.
3rd UPDATE:

The man shot in the area of Mad River Road and Miller Lane in Arcata this morning by law enforcement responding to a suspicious person call was declared dead after being taken to the hospital, according to an update.

The man’s identification was not immediately released.

The HCSO reports multiple officers with the California Highway Patrol and Arcata Police Department responded to the 911 call, which came in at 10:47 a.m., and began “de-escalation efforts” after finding the man walking in the roadway.

The caller described the suspect as a white male, around 30 years in age, who was wearing a leather jacket and had a handgun.

At the time, the sheriff’s office was looking for a man who had evaded deputies earlier in the morning and who generally matched the description and was believed to be armed.

“The Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team has been activated. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Division and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office are leading this investigation,” the update states.

Sheriff William Honsal was still giving a briefing just before 4 p.m. when this update was posted. Read a full story on the briefing here.

2nd UPDATE:
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s office confirmed that Critical Incident Response Team has been activated to investigate a police shooting of a suspect this morning on Mad River Road and has scheduled a press briefing near the scene for 3 p.m. to release additional information.

According to scanner traffic this morning, the man shot by police was transported to Mad River Community Hospital for treatment. No update has been given on his condition.

UPDATE:

Witnesses near the scene of the shooting said they saw a row of six or more police cars following a man carrying a briefcase or suitcase with a handgun holstered to his hip. Police were repeatedly asking him to stop and drop what he was carrying but he kept telling them to leave him alone, the witnesses said.

After the procession round a corner out of view, they said they heard a gunshot.

Multiple law enforcement agencies are at the scene, including CHP, the sheriff’s office, Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn and other APD personnel.

PREVIOUS:

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is at the scene of a shooting that took place around 11:30 a.m. in the area of Mad River Road and Miller Lane, in the county’s jurisdiction of the Arcata Bottom.
Scene of the shooting in the Arcata Bottoms. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Scene of the shooting in the Arcata Bottoms.

“This is rapidly developing investigation involving multiple agencies. More information will be released as available. Please AVOID the area while law enforcement works,” the HCSO Facebook post states.

It is not immediately clear if this is related to the search for Matthew Lyle Dilley, 34, who fled deputies this morning in a high-speed chase and abandoned his car on a property around North Bank Road. He is believed to be armed.

Residents in the North Bank Road areas of McKinleyville and Arcata are cautioned not to open their doors to strangers and asking motorists not to pick up hitchhikers along nearby highways. Read more here.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Knob Fire Holding as River Complex Grows

Posted By on Tue, Sep 7, 2021 at 11:36 AM

Fire crews continued to make progress on the Knob Fire over the holiday weekend, as crews on the McCash Fire work to protect homes near Hyapom and stop the fire's advance toward Hayfork Creek and Hyampom Road and firefighters work to protect property threatened by the River Complex, which is expected to see another round of growth today.

While coastal Humboldt County will see pretty good to moderate air quality today, conditions around Hoopa, Orleans and Willow Creek will reach "unhealthy" levels.

With fires raging across the region and resources already stretched very thin, the U.S. Forest Service has temporarily closed nine National Forests, including Klamath, Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers.

Here's a brief look at each of the first burning near Humboldt and what you need to know.

The Fires
The Knob Fire, 2,414 acres, 89 percent contained

The Knob Fire burning near Willow Creek started Aug. 29 around 3 p.m. on Brush Mountain and resources from the Monument and McCash fires were sent to aid with firefighting efforts.

Crews held the Knob Fire to under 2,500 acres while increasing containment to 89 percent as of this morning.

"Last night, fire behavior was minimal, with no spotting outside of the fire perimeter," this morning's update states. "Today, crews will continue to work on the north side strengthening and improving containment lines and extinguishing any hotspots within 300 feet of the perimeter of the fire."

An evacuation order remains in effect for areas east of Brushy Mountain Lookout Road/FS Road 6N08A to State Route 299, south of Victor Creek to China Creek; areas east of Brushy Mountain Lookout Road/FS Road 6N08A to the eastern perimeter of the Knob Fire south of China Creek to Friday Ridge Road; and areas east of Brushy Mountain Lookout Road/FS Road 6N08A to South Fork Trinity River, south of Friday Ridge Road to the end of the FS Road 6N20. Evacuation warnings remain in surrounding areas. For the latest map of evacuation zones, visit tinyurl.com/humcoevacmap.

The Monument Fire, 185,505 acres, 41 percent contained
Located a half mile west of Big Bar along State Route 299 east of Willow Creek, the Monument Fire was sparked by lightning on July 30.

State Route 299 has reopened but only during the day and with pilot cars leading traffic in both directions from Burnt Ranch to Helena at designated times every hour and a half starting at 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. The road will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for everyone except local residents with proof of address and emergency traffic.

"Two areas of the fire remain active: the north side, which is primarily in the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area, and the southwest side, which is east of Hyampom," a Sept. 6 update states. "While suppression efforts are being implemented to protect the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area, the Trinity Wild and Scenic River, Inventoried Roadless areas, and endangered species habitat, the highest priority remains the southwest side. Numerous resources are positioned near Hyampom to protect structures and make every effort to halt the fire’s southward advance toward Hayfork Creek and Hyampom Road."

Evacuation orders, as of yesterday evening, include all areas along Hyampom Road from Lucky Jeep Trail, east along both sides of Hyampom Road to Drink Water Gulch, including Fox Lane, Drink Water Gulch, and Phares Lane, according to the Trinity County Sheriff's Office. Warning areas include Hyampom Road east of Drink Water Gulch to Digger Gulch and South to Tule Creek Road and Green Gate Road are now under an Evacuation Warning. This includes: Turkey Track Road, Doctor Lane, Digger Gulch, Shangri La Lane, Green Gate Road, McAlexander Road.

For information on evacuation orders and warnings, evacutation sites and animal shelters, visit the Trinity County Sheriff's Office Facebook page here.

For more information, check the incident website here and a map of the fire's footprint here.

The McFarland Fire,
122,653 acres and is 98 percent contained
Sparked by lightning July 29 on McFarland Ridge south of State Route 36, the fire is burning in timberlands with fuels with historically low moisture levels in an area that hasn't burned in more than 50 years. The last update had the fire at 98 percent containment, with a full containment estimate of Sept. 9.

Find the latest information here.

River Complex 2021, 135,698 acres, 19 percent contained
Located in the Salmon/Scott River Ranger District of the Klamath National Forest, the complex consists of multiple lightning fires sparked in dry timber and brush on July 30. The full complex stretches more than 135,000 acres and originally included 31 fires, three of which remain: the Cronan, Summer and Haypress fires.

Crews lost ground on the blaze, which grew by more than 14,000 acres overnight and went from 21 percent containment on Monday to 19 percent containment, according to this morning's update.

"Fire behavior was active yesterday and will be active again today with increased growth expected. Crews will use all available tools and tactics to protect lives, property, and other values, while providing for firefighter and public safety," the update states. "The Summer Fire has merged with the Haypress Fire. On the Haypress Fire, crews are dealing with spotting in the northeast, near Blue Jay Ridge. A point of Parker’s Spot has burned into the main fire. The Coffee Spike Camp will be moved to Trinity Center today. The Cronan Fire remains in patrol status."

New evacuation orders were issued for Callahan, Mosquito Lake, and Eagle Creek.

Siskiyou County has issued evacuation orders and warnings for the communities of Ceciville, Summerville, Petersburg and Sawyers Bar while Trinity County has issued evacuation orders and warnings for the communities of Coffee Creek, Carrville, and Trinity Center. For specific information regarding evacuations please visit https://www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/emergencyservices or https:///www.trinitycounty.org/OES.

Find more information here and a map of the fires' footprints here.

The McCash Fire:
57,038 acres, 15 percent containment
Sparked by lightning on July 31, the McCash Fire is burning near Somes Bar in the Marble Mountain Wilderness in Siskiyou County in an area of timber growth with an understory of tall grass and brush was held to just more than 57,000 acres overnight and notched up a tad to 15 percent containment.

"Firefighters are preparing for changing weather and future wind events," an update states. "Today, a southerly flow will bring increased winds from the southwest that have the potential to push the fire northward."

Evacuation orders and warnings are in place for areas of Siskiyou County. Visit the county's website for up-to-date information here.

The fire threatens significant cultural sites for the Karuk Tribe, as well as some structures on private lands. The current estimated containment date is Oct. 31. Find more information here.

Travel
State Route 299: Reopened during the day with pilot cars leading traffic in both directions from Burnt Ranch to Helena at designated times every hour and a half from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The road will be closed from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. to everyone except local residents with proof of address.

State Route 36: Open.

For the most up to date road information, visit CalTrans' road information site here.

Air Quality

Wildfire smoke has triggered an air quality advisory — with "very unhealthy" conditions — in areas of Trinity County and eastern Humboldt County, including Orleans and Hooopa, according to the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District.

For the latest air quality information, click here.

Here's the district's full rundown:
 Orleans – Overall Unhealthy; Hazardous this morning; potential for Good to Moderate tonight
 Hoopa – Unhealthy in the morning; potential for improvement in evening
 Willow Creek – Overall Unhealthy
 Trinity Center/Coffee Creek – Unhealthy in morning, Good/Moderate today; Hazardous periods overnight
 Douglas City – Overall Unhealthy
 Hayfork – Overall Unhealthy
 Eureka (including Scotia to Trinidad) – Good to Moderate
 Garberville & Redway – Good to Moderate, afternoon improvement
 Weitchpec – Overall USG; Very Unhealthy in the morning then potential for Good to Moderate tonight

"Good" — air quality is satisfactory and poses little or no risk
"Moderate" — Sensitive individuals should limit prolonged or heavy exertion "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" — Sensitive groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion
"Unhealthy" — Sensitive groups should avoid all prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion
"Very Unhealthy" — Everyone should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion
"Hazardous" — Everyone should avoid any outdoor activity

For the latest air quality information, click here and here.
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Thursday, September 2, 2021

Knob Fire Update: Officials Urge Residents in Evacuation Warning Zones to Prep Homes, Properties

Posted By on Thu, Sep 2, 2021 at 5:44 PM

Firefighters from multiple agencies, including some that were pulled off the Monument Fire defended houses at the end of Enchanted Creek Lane on Monday. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Firefighters from multiple agencies, including some that were pulled off the Monument Fire defended houses at the end of Enchanted Creek Lane on Monday.


Residents in the evacuation warning zones of areas east of Boise Creek to the Humboldt-Trinity County Line and south of the Trinity River to Victor Creek, are encouraged to conduct fire mitigation tactics to protect their homes and properties, including creating defensible space, from the possible threat of the Knob Fire.

The Knob Fire is currently estimated to span 2,179 acres and is 52 percent contained.

"Defensible space is the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs or any wildland area that surround it. This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it helps protect your home from catching fire — either from embers, direct flame contact or radiant heat," the release states. "Proper defensible space also provides firefighters a safe area to work in, to defend your home."

Other fire mitigation tactics include removing all vegetation, including dead plants, grass and weeds (vegetation) inside and outside homes, removing dead or dry leaves and pine needles from yards, roofs and rain gutters, removing branches that hang over roofs, keeping dead branches 10 feet away from chimneys, trimming trees to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees, relocating woodpiles, removing or pruning flammable plants and shrubs near windows, removing vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks, balconies and stairs and creating a separation between trees, shrubs and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles and swing sets.

For more information on defensible space click here.



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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Man in His 30s Killed in UTV Crash

Posted By on Wed, Sep 1, 2021 at 2:55 PM

The California Highway Patrol is investigating a 4-wheeler crash in Southern Humboldt that left a man in his mid-30s dead yesterday evening.

According to a press release, the man was driving a side-by-side UTV at around 7 p.m. on a dirt road on private property near Island Mountain Road when he made an unsafe turn, causing the vehicle to overturn. The driver was ejected, causing fatal injuries.

"The driver was discovered some time later and rushed to Bell Springs Road, just north of Island Mountain Road, where was pronounced dead by paramedics," the press release states.

The man's name is being withheld at this time, until his family can be notified of his death.

The full press release is copied below:

Continue reading »

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UPDATE: Knob Fire Doubles in Size as Evacuation Orders Remain, Schools Close for the Week, 299 Under One-Way Traffic Control with Closure Possible

Posted By on Wed, Sep 1, 2021 at 9:41 AM

UPDATE:
The Knob Fire doubled in size overnight to nearly 2,000 acres and remains 0 percent contained, according to a Forest Service update, as crews work to keep the fire on the west side of the South Fork Trinity River. 

PREVIOUS:
Evacuation orders remain in effect for the China Creek and Friday Ridge areas due to the Knob Fire, which was around 1,000 acres and 0 percent contained as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Caltrans reports that one-way traffic control is now in effect in the Willow Creek and Salyer areas of Route State 299 and warns that “it is possible the roadway will have to close.”

“Fire suppression efforts and favorable weather overnight kept the fire west of Highway 299 and the South Fork Trinity River,” an update from Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office states. “Due to heavy smoke impacting air resources, the current total acreage of the fire is unknown. Weather conditions forecasted for this afternoon present the potential for fire growth to the south and east.”

The incident team has given an estimated containment date of Oct. 3.

An EVACUATION ORDER remains in effect for:

Areas east of Brushy Mountain Lookout Road/Forest Route 6N08A to the Trinity River, south of Butterfly Creek Road to the end of Forest Route 6N20.

An EVACUATION WARNING remains in effect for:

Areas east of Boise Creek to the Trinity River, South of Panther Creek Road to Butterfly Creek Road

Find a map of the evacuation area here.

The Humboldt County Office of Education states that all schools in the Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District will be closed for the week.

An Evacuation Center remains open at the McKinleyville Seventh Day Adventist Church, located at 1200 Central Avenue, McKinleyville, for evacuees. Domestic and large animal sheltering is available at the Hoopa Rodeo Grounds, located on Pine Creek Road in Hoopa.

More information regarding the Knob Fire, current impact and evacuation areas, can be found at humboldtsheriff.org, @HumCoOES on Facebook and Twitter, or by calling 707-268-2500.

Read the full release below:

Evacuation warnings and orders remain in effect for the China Creek and Friday Ridge areas as fire crews work to contain the Knob Fire near Willow Creek.

CURRENT SITUATION

The Knob Fire originated Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021 between 4:00 and 5:00 pm. It is burning in timber, brush and grass. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is leading fire suppression efforts. According to California Incident Management Team 5, as of 5 p.m. August 31, the Knob Fire is was approximately 1,000 acres and 0% contained. Fire suppression efforts and favorable weather overnight kept the fire west of Highway 299 and the South Fork Trinity River. Due to heavy smoke impacting air resources, the current total acreage of the fire is unknown. Weather conditions forecasted for this afternoon present the potential for fire growth to the south and east.

According to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, approximately 1,200 customers are without power as of 8 a.m. September 1. See outage map: https://pgealerts.alerts.pge.com/outages/map/

Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies continue to patrol the mandatory evacuation zones and liaise with the fire Incident Management Team to ensure the safety of residents.

EVACUATION INFORMATION

An EVACUATION ORDER remains in effect for:

Areas east of Brushy Mountain Lookout Road/Forest Route 6N08A to the Trinity River, south of Butterfly Creek Road to the end of Forest Route 6N20.

An EVACUATION WARNING remains in effect for:

Areas east of Boise Creek to the Trinity River, South of Panther Creek Road to Butterfly Creek Road

A map of evacuation zones is available at tinyurl.com/humcoevacmap

CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS

The following road closures are in effect related to the Knob Fire:

China Creek Road at Hodgson Road;

Burwood Drive;

Gypo Lane;

Friday Ridge Road;

Butterfly Creek Road.

The above routes are closed to entering traffic, but may be used by residents to leave the area in compliance with the evacuation order.

State Route 299 is currently open to one way controlled traffic in the fire area. Road conditions are subject to change based upon fire activity and public safety. Residents are encouraged to visit http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ to check for state highway closures.

RESOURCES FOR THE COMMUNITY

An Evacuation Center remains open at the McKinleyville Seventh Day Adventist Church, located at 1200 Central Avenue, McKinleyville, for evacuees. Resources available at this location include:

Overnight sheltering;

Restrooms;

Water;

Red Cross services.

Domestic and large animal sheltering is available at the Hoopa Rodeo Grounds, located on Pine Creek Road in Hoopa.

Voting Information for Wildfire Evacuees:

https://humboldtgov.org/.../Press-Releases-Notices...

SIGN UP FOR HUMBOLDT ALERT

County residents are encouraged to sign up for county emergency notifications via Humboldt Alert at humboldtgov.org/alerts. Residents must opt-in to receive evacuation notifications via phone or email.

If having trouble signing up for Humboldt Alert online, please contact the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services at 707-268-2500

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Additional updates will be issued via press release as needed.

For more information regarding the Knob Fire, current impact and evacuation areas, please go to humboldtsheriff.org, visit @HumCoOES on Facebook and Twitter, or call 707-268-2500.

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