Thursday, August 1, 2019

U.S. Forest Service - Shasta-Trinity National Forest Fire restrictions

U.S. Forest Service - Shasta-Trinity National Forest Fire restrictions

In response to the continuing drying conditions and increasing potential risk of wildfire across the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, the Forest Supervisor has decided to implement fire restrictions on August 1, 2019. Restrictions include:

Restrictions include:

1. No fires outside designated sites. Designated sites include developed recreation sites and designated fire safe sites. Please refer to the list of designated sites available for free at forest offices.

2. No Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle, building, or at a developed recreation site or designated fire safe site.

3. No Operation of internal combustion engines, except below the high waterline on Shasta Lake, Trinity Lake, and Iron Canyon Reservoir or on designated National Forest System roads or trails. Please refer to the 2014 Shasta-Trinity National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) available for free at offices or online at https://go.usa.gov/xU5Ya.

4. No welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with an open flame.

Portable stoves and lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed with a valid California campfire permit. Campfire permits are free and available at all Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and CAL FIRE offices, Campground Hosts, Forest Service field personnel and online at www.preventwildfireca.org. Please note that a printer must be connected and available to print out the online permit.

Generator operation is allowed if the generator has a working Forest Service-approved spark arrestor, all flammable material is cleared away from the generator for a minimum of five feet in all directions and a responsible person is in attendance at all times. Chainsaw operation to cut fuelwood is allowed when operated in accordance with Shasta-Trinity National Forest fuelwood cutting permit regulations.


Areas exempted from these fire restrictions include the shorelines of Shasta Lake, Trinity Lake and Iron Canyon Reservoir that are at least 50 feet from any flammable vegetation and within 10 feet of the water’s edge.
Forest Fire Restrictions Map

Shasta-Trinity National Forest Fire Restrictions Map

Other areas exempt from fire restrictions include the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel, Chanchelulla, and Castle Crags Wilderness Areas. Most of the Trinity Alps Wilderness is also exempt, except for three high elevation watershed areas within the Wilderness

(please refer to Order 14-19-03https://go.usa.gov/xyFFC). Campfires are never allowed in the Mt. Shasta Wilderness Area (Order 14-59/61-31 https://go.usa.gov/xU5zR).








To view an online version of the Forest Order implementing fire restrictions visit https://go.usa.gov/xyMhH.

CAL FIRE CZU Prescribed Burn Planned for Thursday

CAL FIRE Prescribed Burn Planned for Thursday
12-acre prescribed burn near the intersection of Empire Grade Road and Jamison Creek Road in northern Santa Cruz County


FELTON – The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) San Mateo – Santa Cruz Unit will conduct a 12-acre prescribed burn near the intersection of Empire Grade Road and Jamison Creek Road in northern Santa Cruz County on August 1, 2019. 

The prescribed burn will be conducted between the hours of 08:00 am and 4:00 pm, but smoke may be noticed in the area for about one to two days following the burn. The project is being conducted in accordance with a Smoke Management Permit issued by the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District in order to minimize the smoke impacts on surrounding communities.

This burn is being conducted as part of the CAL FIRE Vegetation Management Program and is intended to reduce fuel accumulations and restore and enhance grassland. 


Prescribed vegetation management burns are carefully planned controlled burns that must meet a predefined set of conditions (prescription) in order to achieve ideal fire behavior. No burning takes place if weather and fuel conditions are not within prescription. When optimal conditions are met, trained wildland firefighters manage the burn while monitoring the weather, smoke dispersal, fire behavior and designated fire control lines.

CAL FIRE CZU is responsible for wildland fire protection on State Responsibility Area (SRA) lands throughout San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties. In addition, CAL FIRE CZU provides fire, rescue and paramedic services under contract to Coastside Fire Protection District, San Mateo County Fire Department, Santa Cruz County Fire Department, and Pajaro Valley Fire Protection District. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

#LODD - #CALFIRE Firefighter Dies of Medical Emergency on a training hike #CAfire

CAL FIRE Firefighter Dies of Medical Emergency


Yaroslav Katkov, a 29-year-old CAL FIRE/San Diego County firefighter, was on a training hike with his engine crew when he suffered the medical issue Monday


Yaroslav Katkov CALFIREP Hoto(CA)
Yaroslav Katkov, a 29-year-old CAL FIRE/San Diego County firefighter died from an on-duty medical emergency Monday morning.
A CAL FIRE/San Diego County firefighter died from an on-duty medical emergency Monday morning.

While on a training hike with his engine crew, firefighter Yaroslav Katkov, 29, suffered an undisclosed medical issue, a release from California Gov. Gavin Newsom stated. A sheriff's helicopter then flew him to Temecula Valley Hospital in Riverside County.

Katkov arrived at the hospital in critical condition, and he was later pronounced dead.

"On behalf of all Californians, Jennifer and I extend our sincere condolences to CAL FIRE Firefighter Yaroslav Katkov’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time," Newsom said in a statement.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

California PUC sets rules for cutting power in "truly extreme fire danger weather" to prevent wildfires

California Public Utilities Commission gave the green light allowing utilities to de-energize power lines to possibly hundreds of thousands of customers to avoid catastrophic wildfires


Photo credit: KOLO


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) —

California regulators on Thursday approved allowing utilities to cut off electricity to possibly hundreds of thousands of customers to avoid catastrophic wildfires like the one sparked by power lines last year that killed 85 people and largely destroyed the city of Paradise.

Utilities' liability can reach billions of dollars, and after several years of devastating wildfires, they asked regulators to allow them to pull the plug when fire risk is extremely high. That's mainly during periods of excessive winds and low humidity when vegetation is dried out and can easily ignite.

The California Public Utilities Commission gave the green light but said utilities must do a better job educating and notifying the public, particularly those with disabilities and others who are vulnerable, and ramp up preventive efforts, such as clearing brush and installing fire-resistant poles.

The plans could inconvenience hundreds of thousands of customers while endangering some who depend on electricity to keep them alive, like 56-year-old Kallithea Miller.

Although she lives far from wildfire danger near a shopping mall in Stockton, south of Sacramento, she relies on a refrigerator to cool her insulin and a machine to keep her breathing at night.

"I could die in my sleep," she said. "It's scaring the hell out of me."

The precautionary outages could mean multiday blackouts for cities as large as San Francisco and San Jose, Northern California's major power provider warned in a recent filing with the utilities commission.

Pacific Gas & Electric anticipates cutting the power only in "truly extreme fire danger weather" while recognizing that there "are safety risks on both sides of this issue," vice president Aaron Johnson said.

PG&E initially planned to de-energize power lines in at-risk rural areas but has since expanded its plans to include high-voltage transmission lines like the one that sparked the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century. The blaze last November killed 85 people while wiping out nearly 15,000 homes in and around Paradise.

"I know it inconveniences people, but it's a small price to pay for not having the kind of devastation that we had in Paradise," Mayor Jody Jones said. "Everyone I know in Paradise knew that PG&E might cut the power off. I didn't see that as a problem. The problem was that they didn't actually shut it off."

Utility equipment has been blamed for many of California's most destructive and deadly wildfires in recent years.

Other major California utilities have similar plans that commissioners unanimously approved Thursday, also warning that outages could extend into cities under some conditions.

"We're worried about it because we could see people's power shut off not for a day or two but potentially a week," Gov. Gavin Newsom said as he recently called for California to spend $75 million to help communities prepare. "This is high winds, severe weather, turn off the electricity so it doesn't ignite a fire. It's a good thing - unless you're impacted."

California's three largest investor-owned utilities serve more than 150,000 customers who rely on life-support equipment, many of whom are considered low income, state Sen. Bill Dodd said. The Democrat from Napa wants utilities to provide backup electricity or financial assistance so high-risk customers can buy generators or batteries.

The elderly, people with disabilities and language barriers, and poorer residents in remote areas with limited transportation or communication are also at greater risk. Cellphone networks can fail, computers and internet phone lines won't work, traffic signals go dark and there can be problems with communication systems, water treatment facilities and emergency services.

Utility representatives said they are doing their best to work with emergency responders and community groups to warn vulnerable customers, as the Public Utilities Commission required.

"What the PUC can do is basically lay out the expectations for what the utilities need to do. Where the rubber meets the road is how the utilities operationalize, particularly on the notification," said Mark Toney, executive director of the Utility Reform Network.

The option to pull the plug isn't new, though state officials expect it to be used much more frequently.

San Diego Gas & Electric won permission to cut off power during high-risk conditions after its equipment ignited three big fires in 2007. State regulators expanded the shut-off requirements to other investor-owned utilities last year, after devastating fires in 2017.

Once power is shut off, the utilities must inspect every de-energized line before they restore power, a process that can keep the lights out for days even after conditions improve.

Both PG&E and Southern California Edison used their new authority last fall, with many residents and local officials upset that stores, businesses and schools had to close for lack of electricity.

Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning said his city of 5,200 residents in the Napa Valley was the first to experience a PG&E power outage, "so we learned firsthand how that goes - not well."

He cited poor communication, which utility representatives said they are working to improve, but praised PG&E for now trying to keep makeshift power flowing to key areas of town in the next outage.

"They're damned if they do, and damned if they don't," Canning said. "There's only so much we can do as a city to protect you. Individual residents have to be prepared."

Miller said her backup plan is a cat named Mojo who instinctively paws at her face whenever she stops breathing.

"It puts us in a dangerous situation and a stressful situation," she said. "If they have a blackout that lasts for five days, I'm screwed."

----
Source: 
https://www.kcra.com/article/california-sets-rules-for-cutting-power-to-prevent-wildfires/27671240

California sets rules for cutting power to prevent wildfires

California Public Utilities Commission gave the green light allowing utilities to de-energize power lines to possibly hundreds of thousands of customers to avoid catastrophic wildfires


Photo credit: KOLO
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) —
California regulators on Thursday approved allowing utilities to cut off electricity to possibly hundreds of thousands of customers to avoid catastrophic wildfires like the one sparked by power lines last year that killed 85 people and largely destroyed the city of Paradise.

Utilities' liability can reach billions of dollars, and after several years of devastating wildfires, they asked regulators to allow them to pull the plug when fire risk is extremely high. That's mainly during periods of excessive winds and low humidity when vegetation is dried out and can easily ignite.

The California Public Utilities Commission gave the green light but said utilities must do a better job educating and notifying the public, particularly those with disabilities and others who are vulnerable, and ramp up preventive efforts, such as clearing brush and installing fire-resistant poles.

The plans could inconvenience hundreds of thousands of customers while endangering some who depend on electricity to keep them alive, like 56-year-old Kallithea Miller.

Although she lives far from wildfire danger near a shopping mall in Stockton, south of Sacramento, she relies on a refrigerator to cool her insulin and a machine to keep her breathing at night.

"I could die in my sleep," she said. "It's scaring the hell out of me."

The precautionary outages could mean multiday blackouts for cities as large as San Francisco and San Jose, Northern California's major power provider warned in a recent filing with the utilities commission.

Pacific Gas & Electric anticipates cutting the power only in "truly extreme fire danger weather" while recognizing that there "are safety risks on both sides of this issue," vice president Aaron Johnson said.

PG&E initially planned to de-energize power lines in at-risk rural areas but has since expanded its plans to include high-voltage transmission lines like the one that sparked the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century. The blaze last November killed 85 people while wiping out nearly 15,000 homes in and around Paradise.

"I know it inconveniences people, but it's a small price to pay for not having the kind of devastation that we had in Paradise," Mayor Jody Jones said. "Everyone I know in Paradise knew that PG&E might cut the power off. I didn't see that as a problem. The problem was that they didn't actually shut it off."

Utility equipment has been blamed for many of California's most destructive and deadly wildfires in recent years.

Other major California utilities have similar plans that commissioners unanimously approved Thursday, also warning that outages could extend into cities under some conditions.

"We're worried about it because we could see people's power shut off not for a day or two but potentially a week," Gov. Gavin Newsom said as he recently called for California to spend $75 million to help communities prepare. "This is high winds, severe weather, turn off the electricity so it doesn't ignite a fire. It's a good thing - unless you're impacted."

California's three largest investor-owned utilities serve more than 150,000 customers who rely on life-support equipment, many of whom are considered low income, state Sen. Bill Dodd said. The Democrat from Napa wants utilities to provide backup electricity or financial assistance so high-risk customers can buy generators or batteries.

The elderly, people with disabilities and language barriers, and poorer residents in remote areas with limited transportation or communication are also at greater risk. Cellphone networks can fail, computers and internet phone lines won't work, traffic signals go dark and there can be problems with communication systems, water treatment facilities and emergency services.

Utility representatives said they are doing their best to work with emergency responders and community groups to warn vulnerable customers, as the Public Utilities Commission required.

"What the PUC can do is basically lay out the expectations for what the utilities need to do. Where the rubber meets the road is how the utilities operationalize, particularly on the notification," said Mark Toney, executive director of the Utility Reform Network.

The option to pull the plug isn't new, though state officials expect it to be used much more frequently.

San Diego Gas & Electric won permission to cut off power during high-risk conditions after its equipment ignited three big fires in 2007. State regulators expanded the shut-off requirements to other investor-owned utilities last year, after devastating fires in 2017.

Once power is shut off, the utilities must inspect every de-energized line before they restore power, a process that can keep the lights out for days even after conditions improve.

Both PG&E and Southern California Edison used their new authority last fall, with many residents and local officials upset that stores, businesses and schools had to close for lack of electricity.

Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning said his city of 5,200 residents in the Napa Valley was the first to experience a PG&E power outage, "so we learned firsthand how that goes - not well."

He cited poor communication, which utility representatives said they are working to improve, but praised PG&E for now trying to keep makeshift power flowing to key areas of town in the next outage.

"They're damned if they do, and damned if they don't," Canning said. "There's only so much we can do as a city to protect you. Individual residents have to be prepared."

Miller said her backup plan is a cat named Mojo who instinctively paws at her face whenever she stops breathing.

"It puts us in a dangerous situation and a stressful situation," she said. "If they have a blackout that lasts for five days, I'm screwed."

----


Thursday, February 28, 2019

PG&E admits equipment ‘probably’ caused Paradise Camp Fire, says its future is in doubt

PG&E acknowledged Thursday that its power equipment is likely to blame for the Camp Fire, the deadliest fire in California history.


6 things to know about the PG&E bankruptcy filing and how it affects you
PG&E is about to go bankrupt. Will the troubled utility keep the lights on as it finds a resolution of the billions of dollars it faces in potential liabilities from the Camp Fire and the wine country wildfires. 

PG&E acknowledged Thursday that its power equipment is likely to blame for the Camp Fire, the deadliest fire in California history.

The company, which filed for bankruptcy a month ago, also said its wildfire liabilities “raise substantial doubt about PG&E Corporation and the utility’s ability to continue as going concerns.” Companies typically use “going concern” language in Securities and Exchange Commission filings when they’re in such dire financial straits that the company’s future existence is in doubt.

State officials have raised the possibility of forcing PG&E to sell some of its operations, including its natural gas division, to pay wildfire claims. The idea of a state takeover of the utility has also been discussed.

Announcing its fourth quarter financial results early Thursday, the beleaguered utility said “it is probable that its equipment will be determined to be an ignition point of the 2018 Camp Fire.”

A faulty transmission tower near the remote community of Pulga, northeast of Paradise, has long been suspected as the probable cause of the November fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed much of Paradise.

PG&E said a “broken C-hook” attached to the 115-kilovolt tower was the probable cause of the fire. That, according to PG&E, caused a malfunction of the line at about the time and place that state CalFire officials say the Camp Fire ignited. A PG&E employee observed a fire at that site minutes later. PG&E inspectors later found a “flash mark” and other damage on the pole.

California state fire investigators on Thursday declined comment on PG&E’s announcement, saying their investigation of the fire cause is still underway, with no date set for completion.

“We will not address what PG&E said until our investigation been completed,” CalFire spokesman Scott McLean said.

Facing an estimated $30 billion in liabilities from the 2017 and 2018 wildfires, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and its parent PG&E Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late January.

John Geesman, an energy policy consultant in Oakland, said the latest revelations will worsen the utility’s already troubled image and could influence Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature as they consider what steps they should take to deal with the PG&E bankruptcy.

The quarterly financial results shed additional light on PG&E’s troubles. The company took an $11.5 billion charge against earnings, including $10.5 billion from the Camp Fire and an additional $1 billion from the 2017 fires. Previously, the company had recorded a $2.5 billion charge from the 2017 fires, which swept through Northern California’s wine country and parts of the Sacramento Valley.

“The charges represent a portion of the previously announced estimate of potential wildfire liabilities, which could exceed more than $30 billion,” the company said.

The charges plunged PG&E into the red for 2018; the company announced a loss of $6.9 billion for the year. PG&E stock fell 20 cents a share in early New York Stock Exchange trading, to $17.60.

Source: https://www.modbee.com/news/state/california/article226921019.html

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Santa Cruz Man Shot Big Sur Firefighter Receives 14 years Probation

Santa Cruz man who shot Big Sur firefighter pleads out for 14 years probation, treatment

A man who shot a firefighter in Big Sur in 2017 and has brain damage from an electrocution years before has agreed to a plea deal of 14 years on probation and at least one year in a secure mental health facility.

Jacob Thomas Kirkendall, 27, of Santa Cruz, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of resisting arrest in Monterey County Superior Court Wednesday morning as part of the deal.

"It's such a different disposition," said Judge Pamela Butler.

The Monterey County District Attorney's Office had accused Kirkendall of shooting on-duty U.S. Forest Service firefighter Peter Harris with a shotgun on Dec. 11, 2017, according to court records.

"He was having a manic episode and mental breakdown," said Kenneth Rosenfeld, Kirkendall's attorney.

Harris has since recovered but still has bullet fragments in his neck and head, Rosenfeld said.

Kirkendall suffered brain damage 7 years ago when he was electrocuted by throwing water on a fire, not knowing there was a live power line amid the flames.

The current traveled up the water and burned parts of his brain, including the part responsible for judgment, Rosenfeld said. Kirkendall spent about 100 days in a medically induced coma.



Jacob Kirkendall
(Photo: Provided/MONTEREY COUNTY JAIL)


That means it's impossible to say what exactly was going through Kirkendall's head when he opened fire on Harris, Rosenfeld said.

Kirkendall was in his vehicle in a remote part of Big Sur when he opened fire on Harris with a shotgun, Rosenfeld said. He didn't have the exact address readily available.

Kirkendall then drove away but was arrested by the Monterey County Sheriff's Office, Rosenfeld said.

He eventually encountered deputies, who opened fire on him after he threatened them with his vehicle, according to court records. They did not hit him, but did hit his vehicle, the records show.

He originally faced attempted murder of a peace officer charges, assault with a deadly weapon charges for his alleged attacks with his vehicle and the possibility of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Rosenfeld said he's been working with prosecutors for months to hammer out the "extraordinarily fair" deal.

"I think all parties recognize this was a special, individual case of somebody who had severe brain damage," he said, adding he's never had a client receive a 14-year probation sentence.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Knight told Judge Butler that Harris approved of the plea deal.

Kirkendall will be required to spend at least a year at Alpine Special Treatment Center in San Diego.

"It's not like he's getting out. He's going to be in a locked facility," Rosenfeld said.

He could spend more time there because he won't be released until it's approved by both Alpine's medical staff and Butler, Knight said.

If they sign off on his release, he would still have to attend an outpatient mental health program, Rosenfeld said.

Kirkendall will be responsible for all treatment expenses, including refunding the sheriff's office for his transportation, Knight said.

In addition, Butler said Kirkendall will be on formal probation for up to 14 years and eight months.

"If he violates his probation, he will go to prison without any (time-served) credits," she said.

He has been in the Monterey County Jail since his arrest, jail records show. He also will be barred from driving and owning any firearm for the rest of his life, Butler noted.

During the hearing, Kirkendall said little besides entering his plea and telling Butler he understood the conditions of his deal.

After the hearing, his parents referred questions to Rosenfeld.

The deal is scheduled to be finalized Friday morning in court after some routine legal hurdles are cleared, Rosenfeld said. He has a bed reserved at the facility starting Monday.

Friday, February 15, 2019

San Francisco Firehouse Cat Faces Eviction

San Francisco Fire Department officials are telling Station 49 that Edna, a feral cat that's been visiting the firehouse for the past four years, has to go.

HANNAH FRY FEBRUARY 11, 2019 LOS ANGELES TIMES

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, FIRE DEPARTMENT - Dalmatians might be the most well-known firehouse mascot, but a tortoiseshell cat named Edna has purred her way into the hearts of firefighters at a San Francisco station.

Edna began visiting Fire Station 49 as a feral kitten four years ago and since then has made the station her home. Now, firefighters are reportedly being told to get rid of her.

“We slowly started to show her love and care, and she [became] our family,” station employees wrote in an email to SF Gate, adding that the cat helps relieve employees’ stress. “Now she is always there, and is the most docile, loving baby. We take her to the vet now, give her treats and she calls our station home now.”

KGO-TV reported that firefighters suspect an anonymous caller complained about Edna being around firefighting equipment. In response, Fire Department officials have asked the station to remove the cat, according to the news station.

An employee who answered the phone at Station 49 on Monday declined to comment on the situation and referred The Times to a department spokesman. He did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Photos on Edna’s Instagram account show firefighters and staff cuddling and petting the feline. Using the hashtag #ednastays, the group is asking the public to send emails to department leaders to convince them to allow Edna to remain at the station.

Employees referred to Edna as the “station angel” in an Instagram post celebrating National Cat Day in October. The photo captured a sleeping Edna curled on a blanket.

“You’re purrfect,” they wrote.

Late Monday afternoon, the Fire Department said Edna has been adopted by a member of its ambulance staff.

The department added that it has had a policy prohibiting animals on its property for more than 20 years and that the removal order was for Edna’s own safety.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

———

©2019 the Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Judge: No More Arrests in CA Ghost Ship Fire Case

A defense motion asking for 14 more people to be arrested in connection with the fatal Oakland warehouse fire in 2016 was denied by the judge in the case.

BY ANGELA RUGGIERO
FEBRUARY 12, 2019
EAST BAY TIMES

Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire(CA)
The view outside the scorched Ghost Ship warehouse building in Oakland, CA. The blaze tore through the two-story building on the 1300 block of 31st Avenue, killing 36 people. JOSE CARLOS FAJARDO/BAY AREA NEWS GROUP/TNS

OAKLAND, Calif. — It’s a rare move to see defendants ask for more defendants to join them in a criminal case, but a judge denied a motion Monday asking for 14 more people to be arrested in the Ghost Ship fire case.

Attorneys for defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris filed the motion to compel a citizen’s arrest, which called for the arrest of 14 others for the fatal Dec. 2, 2016, warehouse fire in East Oakland that killed 36 people. Included in the list was landlord Chor Ng, and her children Eva and Kai Ng, who served as building managers.

The motion itself alleged probable cause to arrest the list of 14 people, who in the months and years leading up to the deadly fire had all been inside the warehouse itself either as inspectors or partygoers, and knew of the dangers inside. The list includes a building inspector, a Child Protective Services agent, fire department members and Oakland police officers who responded to calls at the warehouse, named the Ghost Ship.

Although Judge Trina Thompson said Monday that she was “intrigued” by the motion in this case, she pointed out that the judicial branch did not have the power to bring charges against anyone.

Just before denying the motion after lengthy arguments by both the prosecution and the defense, Judge Thompson also pointed out that her ruling did not preclude the defense from bringing evidence on a third-party culpability. This defense strategy is used by attorneys to present evidence that points to another person or people, besides the defendants themselves.

Prosecutor Autrey James argued that there was insufficient evidence so far to bring charges against the Ngs “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is the standard of proof in criminal cases.

District Attorney Nancy O’Malley herself told this newspaper last year that prosecutors could not “pin that” responsibility on the warehouse owner, the Ng family. But she also said prosecutors have not given up the possibility, if some new evidence comes to light.

James also argued that the arrest of individuals is a “discretionary act,” and that arrests cannot be ordered.

Almena’s defense attorney, Tony Serra, pointed the finger at politics and a public relations firm for the lack of arrest of others besides his client.

“There is a white elephant in the courtroom that no one is acknowledging … that this is a political case,” Serra said.

Serra referred to the alleged $90,000 hiring of Sam Singer, a well-known crisis manager who has a public relations firm based in San Francisco. Serra maintained Singer was hired to influence prosecutors so that the Ng family, fire department, inspectors and others would not be charged. Serra said it was “obvious” that the landlords should be charged.

Singer told this newspaper in January that he was hired to represent the Ng family to assist in communication issues surrounding the tragedy.

“I’m honored that anyone would speak so highly of my work, but there’s no truth in me making charges go away,” Singer said in January.

Tyler Smith, an attorney who represents Harris, said in his arguments Monday that Eva Ng knew when the lease was being signed for the warehouse by Almena and others that the use of the building was being changed. The warehouse, formerly used for dairy storage, was to be used for an artist warehouse, for public outreach and gatherings. Because the owners themselves had the legal duty to make sure the warehouse was safe, everything can be traced back to Eva Ng, Smith argued.

He said if the Ngs had properly followed the rules, the building would have had sprinklers, illuminated exit signs, smoke detectors and other safety measures that the prosecution has argued for against Harris and Almena, Smith said.

Smith also said her brother, Kai Ng, was told that people were living at the warehouse.

As reported by this news organization, police had visited the warehouse a year before the fire and knew of illegal parties. There were also reports from witnesses that firefighters from a nearby station had not only entered the Ghost Ship but also had attended a party there. An off-duty firefighter also attended his wife’s work holiday party there, according to records.

But the prosecution has maintained that it was the reckless actions of Almena and Harris that caused the deaths of the 36 people trapped inside the warehouse.

———

©2019 East Bay Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)
Visit the East Bay Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) at www.eastbaytimes.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


CAL FIRE / USFS Mariposa 2019 Fireline Safety Awareness For Hired Vendors

2019 Fire line Safety Awareness For Hired Vendors

8hrs required annually for fire-line assignments with CAL FIRE and USFS

We have the following 6 Dates available:
March 22, 2019 March 23, 2019
April 5, 2019
April 12, 2019 April 13, 2019
April 27, 2019
Mariposa Fairgrounds, Build. D 8am – 5pm

Class limited to 40 students per session $60.00 per person
Advanced registration with payment required, limited seats available

This year State Fire Training will Require you SFT ID number. Please go
to the link below to see if they have your number before you get to class
Send payment with contact information to

Contact: Mike Mills
5514 Meadow Lane
Mariposa, Ca. 95338
209-617-2483
mrpsmike@sti.net

If you believe your social security number is on file with SFT then you
may use the Legacy SFT ID Look Up tool
(https://apps.cce.csus.edu/sites/stateFIre/) . This web
page will ask for your name and last four of your SSN. If there is a
match, the page will display your SFT ID number


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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer." --Abraham Lincoln

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