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


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Ventura County Sheriff SAR Team member killed, two injured in accident #CALODD

We regret to pass on that a member of the Ventura County Search-and-Rescue Team was killed in the Line Of Duty and two others were critically injured in a crash

The multi-vehicle accident involved a total of 10 patients (including an LA County Firefighter) on the 5 Freeway near Pyramid Lake during a heavy rainstorm around 0730 this morning.

A total of 3 rescue team members were involved in the collision. One of them was pronounced dead, another is in critical condition and a third suffered minor injuries. 7 other people were involved in the wreck as well.

One of the rescue teams were on their way to a training exercise when they came upon the initial traffic crash at Vista Del Lago-in Los Angeles County. They stopped to help and while there, a vehicle plowed into the scene.

The identity of the deceased search-and-rescue team member was not immediately released.

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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.
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