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KPAY News Archives for 2014-09

A bear is seen near a Walmart in Willows. A person working in an Orchard behind Wal-Mart reported seeing a black bear walking around in the area on Saturday. Authorities came out to the area and also spotted the bear. Fish & Game was contacted and the bear was moved safely out of the area.

Black bears have been sighted in Redding neighborhoods as well.

Gas prices continue going down in the Chico area. The website says Chico gas prices have dropped 2 cents over the last week to an average gallon price of 3 dollars and 54 cents. That's down almost 18 cents in the last month. And a survey shows Chico gas prices have dropped more than 30 cents a gallon since one year ago. the national average has also gone down some 8 and a half cents in the last month.

There's minimal fire activity for the King Fire in El Dorado County. The blaze started on September the 13th and has burned over 97 thousand acres and has destroyed 12 homes and 68 other minor structures. According to Cal Fire, crews are removing hazardous trees and removing road debris to make roads safe for public travel. Fire crews are also actively suppressing fire on an island of fuel within the containment line. The blaze is now 92 percent contained.  

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has exhausted its initial firefighting budget just three months into its fiscal year, forcing Gov. Jerry Brown's administration to shift $70 million from a reserve fund as the state enters what is traditionally the worst of its fire season.
The Department of Finance notified legislative budget writers Monday that the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has spent the $209 million budgeted this fiscal year for emergency wildfire suppression.
The administration is transferring additional money from its $449 million special fund for economic uncertainties.
Keely Bosler, the finance department's chief deputy director, says the move is necessary as California battles "one of its worst fire seasons in recent memory."
CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant says the first of Southern California's dry Santa Ana winds are expected later this week.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — As California's severe drought continues, state and local agencies are looking at budgeting water use by creating a daily water allocation for each household. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that a household would get a certain number of gallons allotted to it for indoor water use and another for outdoor water use.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — With harvest time across California, many of the state's once-robust crops are expected to be smaller than usual this year due to the state's historic drought. The Sacramento Bee reports that the water shortage has led to shrinking grape, almond, rice, orange and pistachio crops.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Additional rain and high humidity allowed crews to make even more progress toward taming a massive wildfire in Northern California. Officials say the 2-week-old blaze has burned nearly 152 square miles of a heavily forested region east of Sacramento. It was 89 percent contained.

PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A day of light rain has brought big gains against a Northern California wildfire, reducing the number of threatened homes from thousands to hundreds.
State fire officials say fewer than 300 structures are threatened by the King Fire east of Sacramento on Thursday night, a figure they put at 12,000 at the beginning of the day.
Calls for evacuation in two communities were reduced from mandatory to voluntary, leaving just one neighborhood under strict evacuation orders. It wasn't immediately clear how many people remained away from their homes.
The rains had brought fears of flash floods and dangerous conditions in the huge burn area, but they remained light and helpful to the firefight.
The blaze is now 55 percent contained after burning almost 150 square miles.

The price of a gallon of gasoline may soon start with a "2'' across much the country. Gasoline prices typically decline in autumn. This year they're getting a big push lower from falling global oil prices. A forecast by says by the end of the year, up to 30 states could have an average gasoline price of under $3 a gallon.

Residents in Cohasset whose wells have run dry still have a chance to get drinkable water. Various community and county groups have banded together to provide access to the water. People in need can have up to 200 gallons of potable water a week. It's available at the Cohasset Elementary School. The groups got together when it became clear that some residents had wells that were either going dry or producing little water because of the current dry conditions. 
In Tehama County, meanwhile, the state has joined with Home Depot to donate 30 thousand water conservation tool kits for disadvantaged households. The kits contain items that help stretch a water supply as far as possible. The kits are available at various locations in Red Bluff, Corning or the City of Tehama. 

Fire activity has been minimal for the Happy Camp Complex of wildfires. The blazes started after lightning struck the area of Happy Valley in the Klamath National Forest back in August. The Wildfires have burned over 132 thousand acres and is 86 percent contained. According to the US Forrest Service, fire activity was minimal with no growth overnight on Wednesday. Due to rain coming through the area crews will be near the fire area monitoring water run off.  

PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A massive blaze in California that threatens thousands of homes has become the second-most expensive blaze to fight in the state this year.

State fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said Wednesday the King Fire east of Sacramento has cost more than $53 million since it began nearly two weeks ago.

Berlant said that figure ranks behind the $86 million that has been spent to tame a still-burning fire in the Klamath National Forest along the California-Oregon border.

However, those figures are nowhere near the more than $127 million spent to stop the Rim Fire last year in Yosemite National Park.

More than 7,600 firefighters are currently battling the King Fire that has stretched into Nevada and destroyed 12 homes and threatens another 12,000.

The fire is nearly 40 percent contained.

A man in a stolen car leads deputies on a chase. A Honda Civic was reported stolen from Gridley before 12 am Tuesday. Then around 4 am, that morning, Butte County Sheriff's deputies saw the car at Town and Country Liquor on Highway 162. When the suspect saw the officers he drove off. Deputies pursued the suspect until they reached the intersection of Oro Dam Blvd and Glen Avenue that's when the driver lost control and crashed the car causing a vehicle fire. The driver was arrested and a male passenger was detained. Officers, however, let the passenger go after they determined that he was not involved in the car theft.

A lawsuit has been filed over a fatal shooting a year ago by Chico Police. The Enterprise Record reports the suit involves the killing of 19 year old Breanne Sharpe after she reportedly led police on a vehicle pursuit. The report says when efforts to pull over Sharpe failed officers pursued her. She reportedly put the vehicle she was driving in reverse where it was heading towards an officer. It was then five police officers fired on Sharpe, killing her. The lawsuit reportedly says Sharpe was unarmed and did not pose any risk to officers or members of the community. 

Redding Police and Fire Officials will be at the Air Show this weekend raising money for victims of the Boles Fire. That fire which devastated the town of Weed destroyed or damaged 150 homes and businesses, leaving many people homeless and without income. The fundraiser will be on the tarmac of the airport. All proceeds will go to the Siskiyou County Tri-Counties Bank which has set up a special fund for fire victims.

PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Crews battling a massive blaze threatening thousands of homes east of Sacramento have kept the fire in check despite gusty winds and low humidity. In the few cases where embers crossed the line overnight, firefighters were quickly able to surround the fires and contain them. The fire has burned through 145 square miles since it started Sept. 13. It has destroyed 12 homes and is threatening another 12,000. Containment is up to nearly 40 percent. Crews expect gusty winds and low humidity again today before cooler, wetter weather comes through. 

MOUNT SHASTA, Calif. (AP) — U.S. Forest Service crews are working to clear a mud flow that has closed two roads and a bridge on Mount Shasta.
The mudslide happened Saturday when the tip of a glacier broke off and sent a torrent of muck, logs and rocks down Mount Shasta's southeast side.
Authorities say there were no injuries and that no homes were damaged.
U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Andrea Capps says most of the slide was confined to the mountain's Mud Creek. Capps says it forced the creek out of its channel and that water still was running over a Forest Service road on Monday.
Residents of a small, off-the-grid housing development near the slide can use other roads to reach their houses.

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The National Weather Service has issued a Dense Smoke Advisory for an area stretching from north of Reno to south of Gardnerville and throughout Lake Tahoe.
The service issued the advisory early Monday for the first time since smoke moved into Reno a week ago from a huge California wildfire more than 60 miles away.
It's scheduled to expire at 8 p.m. Monday, but forecasters don't expect conditions to improve much until Wednesday.
Reno's air quality currently is considered unhealthy for sensitive populations, including the elderly and those with respiratory issues.
The smoke forced cancellation Sunday of the annual Ironman triathlons at Lake Tahoe. Last week, most high school football games were postponed in Reno and Sparks and students were kept inside when air quality reached the "very unhealthy" range for all populations.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Officials say crews battling a massive wildfire in Northern California are facing the potential of strong, erratic winds similar to when the blaze doubled in size a week ago. Fire officials say the more than 5,000 firefighters working on the King Fire are also dealing with warmer temperatures and low humidity in addition to the possibility of winds up to 30 mph that could increase fire activity.

MT. SHASTA, Calif. (AP) — Crews are working to clear two roads on Northern California's Mount Shasta after a glacier melted or shifted, sending mud and debris down the mountain.
A spokeswoman for Shasta-Trinity National Forest says the mudslide that began Saturday afternoon was the largest one on Mt. Shasta in 20 years.
Andrea Capps says no injuries or damage to structures were reported. However, the mud flow down the southeastern side of Mount Shasta crossed two roads which will have to be closed for several days for cleanup.
Capps says the mudslide may be related to California's prolonged drought, which left the mountain's glaciers exposed to the sun's heat.
She says a U.S. Forest Service hydrologist believes that a glacier holding pockets of water either shifted or melted, releasing water down the mountainside.

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Federal forecasters say severe drought or worse will continue into next year across much of the West, including practically all of California. The National Weather Service is predicting below-normal precipitation and normal or above-normal temperatures in the week ahead. Experts say the three-year drought isn't likely to be relieved in October, November and December. Officials say Lake Tahoe is close to dropping to its natural rim for the first time since October 2009.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Crews battling a huge Northern California wildfire are bracing for hotter temperatures and erratic winds. The blaze east of Sacramento has burned through 137 square miles. That's an increase of about 9 square miles from yesterday. It's 18 percent contained. The fire has destroyed 10 homes and is threatening 12,000 others. It's forced about 2,700 people from their homes. A man charged with starting the fire pleaded not guilty to arson Friday.

The Boles fire is now at full containment. The blaze which started in the town of weed last Monday burned 479 acres and destroyed over 150 structures most of which were homes. According to Cal Fire, only one injury has been reported in connection with the wildfire. The blaze was fully contained on Saturday. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation to prohibit homeowners associations from banning drought-resistant landscaping to save water. The bill's sponsor said homeowners associations were using legal loopholes to force members to maintain their lawns and landscaping even during the worst drought in a generation. Some homeowners even faced fines for trying to save water with drought-resistant plants.

Progress is being made in the battle against the Boles Fire. The blaze started in the town of Weed around 1:30 pm on Manday. The wildfire burned 479 acres and is now 85 percent contained. The blaze destroyed 150 structures. About 1 thousand homes and 100 commercial properties are threatened. Evacuation orders are still in effect for portions of Weed and the community of Angel Valley. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A wildfire that has driven some 2,800 people from their homes in Northern California is growing but not as substantially as in previous days.

Fire officials say the blaze about 60 miles east of Sacramento had burned through 119 square miles as of Friday morning, up about 5 square miles from the previous day. It remains 10 percent contained.

The wind-whipped blaze more than doubled in size on Thursday, when it grew to 114 square miles. It is threatening 12,000 homes around the community of Pollock Pines, though there are no reports of any damage.

Winds were expected to be light on Friday.

Authorities have accused a man of deliberately starting the blaze. Thirty-seven-year-old Wayne Allen Huntsman is scheduled to be arraigned in the afternoon on an arson charge.

A wild land fire in Butte County Thursday afternoon doesn't threaten any structures but does affect one roadway. The Nelson Fire was first reported about 2 in the afternoon and consumed 400 acres before fire crews got the blaze under control. It was burning in the Llano Seco refuge about 10 miles west of Durham. One fire official says the area is mostly grassland. People, however, were asked to avoid 7 mile road in the afternoon. No structures were burned nor was there any threat to structures.

POLLOCK PINES, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, freeing up funds to fight wildfires in Northern California. A fire east of Sacramento is threatening more than 2,000 homes and has burned nearly 44 square miles. CalFire says the blaze is just 5 percent contained. Hundreds of homes near Pollock Pines remain under evacuation orders.

Progress is being made in battling the Boles fire in and around the community of Weed. The blaze started in the town of Weed around 1:30 pm on Wednesday. The wildfire has burned 375 acres and is now 60 percent contained. The blaze destroyed 150 structures including two churches. According to Cal Fire, one thousand residences and one hundred commercial buildings are threatened and evacuation orders are still in effect in the Community of Angel Valley and Hoy Road. Highway 97 has been reopened. The cause of the blaze in under investigation. 

26 years in prison for the Chico man who plead guilty recently to a count of rape and three counts of kidnapping. Former Physician assistant Lonnie Keith agreed to the plea deal last month after the guilty plea. The 41 year old Keith was convicted for a series of incidents in a south Chico State neighborhood two years ago. He was arrested in early 2013 when a search of his vehicle yielded items that could have been used in the crimes. 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California will no longer be the only western state with a pump-as-you-please approach to groundwater.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday requiring local agencies with depleted supplies to begin managing their wells. The state can intervene if necessary.
The worst drought in a generation gave momentum to three bills by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson of Sacramento and Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills, both Democrats.
Groundwater makes up nearly 60 percent of the state's water use during dry years but is not monitored and managed the same way as water from reservoirs and rivers.
Over-pumping of groundwater has led vast swaths of land to sink.
Republicans and Central Valley Democrats criticized the legislation, saying it punishes well-managed agencies and infringes on water rights.

WEED, Calif. (AP) — Besides destroying or damaging scores of homes and other structures, a fast-moving wildfire struck a blow at the economy of the Northern California timber town of Weed. Workers are assessing damage to the Roseburg Forest Products veneer mill and hope to have a better idea of when it can reopen by Monday.

WEED, Calif. (AP) — Aided by calmer winds and another day of fire-retardant bomber sorties, firefighters are mopping up around a fire in the far Northern California town of Weed.

Fire crews had a handle on the 375-acre fire Tuesday morning after it showed little growth overnight. It is over 20 percent contained.

More than 1,000 people were forced to flee their homes after the fire broke out Monday.

About 100 structures, most of them homes, were destroyed. Some homes were burned to the ground, with only chimneys left standing.

The town's Catholic and Presbyterian churches also burned. Parts of the town's wood-products mill caught fire.

Fires near Yosemite National Park in central California and another east of Sacramento also led hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.

Willows Police along with family & friends continue to search for a woman who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. 23-year-old Angelica Weems has been missing since Sunday afternoon when her and her husband 29-year-old Zir Weems went on a walk while visiting with family members in Willows. Police found Zir that evening on Oak and Ventura Streets. He was bleeding with lacerations to his arms. Police believe the wounds were self inflicted. A box cuter was found next to Zir. Police say Zir, who is recovering at Enloe Medical Center, claims he doesn't know where his wife is. Family members say that Zir has had a history of domestic violence towards his wife and their children.

Police are looking for woman who went missing in Willows Sunday evening. Police found 29-year-old Zir Weems had lacerations on both arms in the area Oak and Vetura streets before 6:30 pm Sunday. He was taken to Enloe Medical Center and was in serious condition - police believe that Weems' injuries were self inflected. He and his wife 23-year-old Angelica Weems were reportedly on a walk when they got into an argument and then she allegedly walked away. Officers searched the area but could could not find her. According to Willows Police, Angelica Weems is considered an at-risk missing person under suspicious circumstances.

A man trying to break up a fight is stabbed in downtown Chico. The off duty bouncer reportedly tried to break up a fight outside Riley's bar and grill Sunday night but a man pulled a knife and stabbed him. The man was tackled several blocks away and reportedly taken to a local hospital. Police say the victim is recovering but the exact nature of his condition is unknown. 

The smoke or haze you see in the local area is actually coming from many miles away. Fire officials say smoke is covering much of the North State but it's actually from the King Fire in El Dorado County, east of Placerville. Fire Officials want people to know there are NO fires burning in the local area.

WEED, Calif. (AP) - Firefighters are gaining ground on a wildfire that raced through the far Northern California town of Weed, damaging or destroying 100 homes and a church. A sawmill was also damaged in the fire. CalFire says the blaze is 20 percent contained and there are no flames or smoke visible this morning. The fire showed almost no growth overnight.

COVELO, Calif. (AP) — A small earthquake rattled parts of Northern California. The U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude 3.5 quake struck Sunday at 1:17 p.m. PDT about six miles south of Covelo in Mendocino County. The epicenter was about 120 miles from west of Sacramento. No damage was reported. The quake was about 150 north of the epicenter of a magnitude 6.0 temblor that caused extensive damage in Napa and the surrounding area on Aug. 24.

POLLOCK PINES, Calif. (AP) - Fire officials say one of two wildfires threatening homes in California grew by hundreds of acres overnight. The fire about 60 miles east of Sacramento has forced the evacuation of 133 homes. It grew by about 900 acres overnight to a little more than 6 square miles. It's 10 percent contained. A second fire, near a foothill community south of the entrance to Yosemite National Park in central California, prompted authorities to evacuate about 1,000 residents. Flames damaged or destroyed 21 structures after the fire began yesterday afternoon. It's 20 percent contained.

The Happy Camp Complex of wildfires continues to burn. The blaze started from lightning strikes on August 11th. The fire has burned almost 112 thousand acres and is about 50% contained. According to the US Forest Service, an evacuation order for the area between Scott Bar Post Office and mile maker 25 on Scott River Road has been changed to an evacuation advisory. The area is open to residents only.

Two Redding Police officers are on paid administrative leave after fatally shooting a Redding man last week. Sgt. Rob Sandbloom and Deputy Gerry Maul have been identified as the officers who fatally shot 32 year old Erik Lebak August 29th. Police say Lebak was armed with a shotgun and handgun, fired the shotgun, and the deputies returned fire, hitting and killing Lebak. Anyone with information about this incident is urged to call the Redding Police. 

HAPPY CAMP, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters kept a huge blaze at bay in Northern California despite extremely dry conditions and moderate winds that are expected to last until the weekend. The U.S. Forest Service says a red flag warning marking dangerous conditions was set to expire Thursday night but has been extended until 11 p.m. Friday. The fire has yet to burn any structures despite growing to some 120 square miles since it started Aug. 11. It is 19 percent contained. Mandatory evacuation orders were lifted for some of the 270 homes they affected by the wildfire in the Klamath National Forest as most of the fire's activity was greatest in non-populated areas. The fire is threatening about 750 homes. The lightning-sparked fire has cost more than $44 million to fight.

The CHP made over 50 arrests during the Labor Day Weekend. The CHP for the Chico/Valley Division made 55 arrests, 33 of those were for DUI. There was one felony pursuit and one occupied stolen vehicle. The CHP arrest data was posted along with the Chico Police Department's arrest stats for the Labor Day Weekend on the Chico PD's Facebook page. 
Also, the Avoid the 8 task force arrested 89 people across Butte County during the 17 day DUI crackdown. 

The Chico Police Department posts Labor Day arrest stats. The department posted on their Facebook page Wednesday the total arrests for the Labor Day Weekend from Friday August 29th through Monday September 1st. There was a total of 61 arrests with 13 of those being Chico State students. According to police, the activity level was manageable with a high cooperation level. Violent crime was down, with the exception of the fatal stabbing on Sunday but police say that was not a Labor Day related event.

Wildfires in the Happy Camp area of Siskiyou County continue to burn. The blazes were sparked by lightning strikes in the area on August 12th. Over 71 thousand acres have burned and the fire is still at 15 percent containment. The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office has changed the Mandatory Evacuations to Advisory Evacuations in the area on Higway 96 from the Klamath River Bridge west of Grider Road to Seiad Creek Road. The Sheriff's Office says that residents should remain prepared to evacuate should fire conditions worsen. 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California regulatory judges have recommended a $1.4 billion penalty against the state's largest utility for a 2010 gas pipeline explosion that engulfed a suburban San Francisco neighborhood in fire, killing eight people and prompting national alerts about aging pipelines. The California Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday announced the figure reached by two administrative law judges against Pacific Gas & Electric Co., saying it would be the largest safety-related penalty it had ever imposed.

PG&E can appeal the fine. The recommended penalty requires approval by members of the state utility board. PG&E and other parties in the case have 30 days to lodge an appeal. The commission previously ordered PG&E to pay $635 million for pipeline modernization after the Sept. 9, 2010, blast in the suburban San Francisco community of San Bruno.

Chico Investigators are still trying to figure out what led two transients to fatally stab a man early Sunday morning. 44 year old Randall Sexton was stabbed multiple times after reportedly fighting with two transients in the parking lot of the 7-11 on East First and Main Streets just after midnight. Police found and arrested 23-year-old Stephanie Vogel not far from the incident. Later that morning they also arrested 29-year-old Joshua Epstein near the intersection of East 1st Avenue and Mangrove. Both suspects were booked into the Butte County Jail for charges of murder with their bail set at 1 million dollars.  

More evacuations in areas around the Happy Camp Complex of wildfires. The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office issued a mandatory evacuation order Tuesday evening for the areas on the north side of Highway 96 between Scott River Road and Seiad Creek Road. The blazes started in the early morning hours of August 12th due to lightning strikes in the area. The fire has burned over 66 thousand acres and is 15 percent contained.

Two suspects are arrested after a fatal stabbing in Chico. An unidentified 44-year-old man was stabbed multiple times after a getting into fight with two reported transients in the parking lot of the 7-11 on East First and Main Streets before 12:30 am Sunday. Police came out to the scene to find the man unresponsive. He was taken to Enloe Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. According to Chico Police, officers found and arrested 23-year-old Stephanie Vogel not far from the incident. Later that morning police arrested 29-year-old Joshua Epstein near the intersection of East 1st Avenue and Mangrove. Both suspects were booked into the Butte County Jail charged with murder.

HAPPY CAMP, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California wildfire sparked by lightning has burned 100 square miles of dry brush and timber in the Klamath National Forest near Happy Camp.

The U.S. Forest Service says crews are working to keep flames away from homes in the communities of Seaid Valley and Hamburg. No structures have burned.

The fire that began Aug. 11 was 15 percent contained late Sunday. Officials say while the blaze was very active on Sunday there was no significant growth.

The fire is burning along Highway 96, which remained open with traffic control measures in place.

Happy Camp is just south of the Oregon border.

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