Recap of Blue Cut Fire warns community of flooding and mudslides. By Terri Hill
Wrightwood Fire Safe Council hosted residents from the communities affected by the Blue Cut Fire, and the agencies that responded, on September 20th for a public meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to give firefighters and law enforcement the opportunity to break down the timeline and brief the public on tactical decisions, and allow for a question and answer period. San Bernardino County Fire PIO (Public Information Officer) Tracey Martinez arranged for speakers from County Fire, County Sheriff, Cal Fire, US Forest Service, and Southern California Edison to present details about the fire’s behavior, statistics, and aftermath. SBC Fire Battalion Chief Mike Wakowski discussed the extreme fire behavior during the first 12 to 24 hours. Wakowski was Incident Commander of the Pilot Fire, and while closing out the command center for the week-long blaze near Silverwood Lake, was called to the Blue Cut Fire. He stated his “take-a-way” from this fire is, “The new normal is not normal.” Wakowski pointed out the Santa Ana winds will arrive in the next few weeks, marking what used to be the beginning of fire season, a season which now lasts throughout the year. Scott Howes, USFS Division Chief, detailed some of the frightening statistics from the fire. At 10:44 a.m., when the fire started, the temperature was 99℉, with 3% humidity, and fuel moisture at 1% on a scale of 1 to 50. Critically low moisture is considered to be 5%. Creating the perfect storm, these elements plus a windy day whipped up the fire and drove it across 24,119 acres in the first 18 hours, making it the first or perhaps second fastest growing wildfire in County history. Howes said he, “Saw it jump Old Cajon, burn through Swarthout and up Lone Pine, where it crested the hills and went down into West Cajon.” He echoed what many firefighters have said since the first few hours of the fire, “I have never seen fire behavior like this before.” Howes, among others, reported seeing “100-foot fire whirls.” Remarkably, just three firefighters were injured in the event, when the fire overran two engines. Eleven tankers and twelve helicopters dropped retardant and water over the 26,000+ acres involved. From all around the Southland, 245 engines were deployed, and 1100 people. Representing SBC Sheriff, Lt. Todd Newton and Sgt. Jeff Toll gave a rundown on the law enforcement responsibilities and stats. Aided by CHP, LA County Sheriff, and even parole officers, deputies canvased neighborhoods informing residents of the mandatory evacuation orders, and patrolling the empty streets. Four burglaries and two GTAs were reported. Squad cars cruised day and night, in an effort to protect evacuated properties. When given the go ahead by fire agencies, law enforcement conducted the repopulation of communities. Sgt. Toll expressed the need caution, and the concerns before allowing residents back in; until water and power are available, and threats like downed power lines are neutralized, fire department PIOs will not give the orders for re-entry. Non-residents are not allowed in until 12 hours later. SCE Representatives Jennifer Cusack, and Grace Soto detailed the extensive damage to electrical equipment caused by the fire. A total of 550 utility poles and hundreds of thousands of feet of electrical wire had to be replaced. Edison workers were repairing and replacing infrastructure before the evacuations were lifted, and they were finished with them majority of the work by September 3. Soto, who works at the Victorville office, explained Edison will get temporary power to customers affected by Blue Cut within 24 hours, and will expedite restoration of power for those who rebuild. Call 1 (800) 655-4555 or go to their website for assistance. USFS Front Country District Ranger Christine Hill addressed the audience regarding the BAER Report (Burned Area Emergency Response). BAER specialists expect erosion and run-off within the Blue Cut Fire area to increase as a result of the fire. 48% of the burned area experienced moderate or high soil burn severity. In these areas, rain events could cause concern for run-off from the steeper slopes, which could lead to post-fire soil erosion and debris flows. Expect flooding when it rains. Hill recommended removal of hazardous waste from burned properties, to keep it out of the ground water. Saturday, September 24th, there is an Electronics and Hazardous Waste Disposal, hosted by County Fire, at the County Yard in Wrightwood, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. During the Q&A, most of the concerns had to do with how to get help with water diversion before the rainy season. County Flood Control, Natural Resource Conservation Service, (NRCS www.nrcs.usda.gov/) and the US Forest Service are the proper agencies to call for help with possible flooding issues due to the Pilot Fire as well as Blue Cut. Tracey Martinez reiterated the message from all of the agencies, “When you are told to evacuate, just leave. It’s for your safety, and the safety of firefighters and law enforcement.” Every agency represented at the briefing stressed the importance of, Ready, Set, Go!, and the new app, Ready SB. Give your home defensible space, keep a list of important items to take in case of evacuation, and leave when you’re told to. Larry Slope, of West Cajon Valley, praised Edison for the quick, and difficult work they did on the power lines on his property, “I’ve never seen a more organized group of people – digging holes, putting in poles, and replacing wires.” He added the benefits of defensible space for saving his home, and the beautiful sight of coming home to firefighters taking a break on his deck.
Community projects stalled By Terri Hill
At the September meeting of the Wrightwood Municipal Advisory Council (MAC), County Special Districts Representative Tim Millington was asked about the status of the plans for a new parking lot design and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) approved parking spaces at the Community Building. Millington reported the project was halted until the possible Wrightwood Community Services District (CSD) is decided through a vote. As funding for the projects had not yet been procured when the CSD application was accepted by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), Special Districts is not allowed to continue with planning and engineering of the upgrades. When asked, Millington was unsure of the disposition of the design and engineering blueprints already produced for the project should Wrightwood vote for a CSD. An ADA parking space at the skate park was recently installed. The sidewalk at the park was designed to divert around a large tree, to avoid the tree’s removal. The tree has since died, and County Parks will remove it, and straighten the walkway. Having funding already available, these two projects were allowed to be completed. County Sheriff Sergeant Toll addressed the MAC Board with the number of calls and reports taken for each community during the month of August; Wrightwood had 201 calls for service, with 10 reports taken, Phelan: 957/61, Pinon Hills: 329/24, West Cajon Valley: 176/4, Oak Hills: 91/16, Baldy Mesa: 173/19, and El Mirage had 86 service calls with nine reports taken. Sgt. Toll remarked that the sharp increase in calls was due to issues concerning the Blue Cut Fire and evacuations. Sergeant John Castro, from the Victorville CHP station, stood in for Officer Matt Hunt, who usually reports to the MAC. Castro’s only comments were about the Safe Trick or Treat program in the Village. CHP units will help control traffic during the annual Halloween event, and patrol into the evening, as they did last year. Jim Cowan reported the Golden State Water main line on Linnet is nearly finished. After pressure tests and other safeguards, he expects the new line to be in operation by October 15. Cowan noted the well levels are at 90 feet below ground surface (BGS), three feet lower than last month’s 87 feet BGS. Last September’s measurement was 79 feet BGS. He said, “There is some recharging, but not much.” Cowan also mentioned the reduction in usage for August, and attributed the drop to the four-day evacuation. Matthew Bokach introduced himself as the Monument Manager for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (SGMNM). Having a history of working in the area, and an affinity for the Big Pines Visitor Center Building, Bokach assured the Board and the attendees he will do what he can to improve the staffing in the forest, and hopes to have the Visitor Center staffed in about six months. Bokach explained the new Adventure Pass requirements; a Pass is needed to park at, or within 500 feet of, an “improved” site. Such sites must include at least six of nine amenities, such as toilets, trash receptacles, interpretive signs, and picnic tables. Bokach also mentioned the SGMNM Management Plan and Environmental Assessment, and the public meeting scheduled for October 4th, at the Big Pines Visitor Center. From 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., the public is invited to comment on the Plan and Assessment. An introduction to the four areas addressed in the Plan: Sustainable Recreation and Use, Transportation and Access, Sensitive, Endangered, and Threatened Wildlife, and Social Issues/Environmental Justice, will be given on the hour, throughout the afternoon and evening. Comments can be made in person at the meeting, or online at: http://bit.ly/monumentpublicmeeting during the public comment period.
9/10 Drugs/ Misc Narcotic misdaminer, Phelan/Sheep Creek Road, Phelan 9/13 Burglary, residential- unknown time, entry by force, 7900 blk Capelin Rd., Baldy Mesa 9/16 Weeapons, carrying concealed firearm, 11800 blk Sierra Vista Rd., Phelan 9/17 Assault, ADW hands, feet, fist, etc., 9500 blk Gorgonio Rd., Phelan 9/17 Disturbing the peace, drunk in public, Phelan / Wilson Ranch Road., Phelan 9/18 Grand Theft Auto, (other snowmobile, boat) 10300 blk Monte Vista Rd., Phelan
Seizure of marijuana, handgun, and stolen property
Case Report Wednesday, September 14, 2016 / 8:00 a.m., Members of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department - Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET), law enforcement officers from the Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF), Union Pacific Railroad, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) collaborated to serve a search warrant at 4678 Struveling Street, a property in the High Desert community of Phelan (West Cajon). Over the past several years, organized burglary crews have been burglarizing cargo trains throughout Southern California, Central California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Electronic equipment, clothing, power tools, and other household items estimated to be worth thousands of dollars were stolen during these thefts. Several trains carrying these retail items have been burglarized within San Bernardino County. Most of the thefts occur while the trains are in rural areas between their destinations points. This presents an opportune time for the suspects to commit the thefts. Investigators from BNSF are actively conducting an investigation into identifying the suspects responsible for the thefts. These suspects will be arrested and prosecuted for their involvement in the crimes. Their current investigation led them to the property on Struveling Street. BNSF investigators contacted MET after they determined there were marijuana plants growing on the property. MET investigators confirmed that the marijuana plants being grown on the property were in violation of state and local laws. When law enforcement officers and deputies arrived at the property to serve the search warrant, they encountered five suspects, Luis Torres-Uribe, age 29, Victor Zamora-Flores, age 34, Juan Carlos Moralez, age 24, Usiel Estrada Ochoa, age 26, Phelan residents, Omar Trejo, age 22, San Bernardino resident. Three of the five were detained at the scene without incident. Torres-Uribe and Trejo attempted to flee on foot. With the assistance of the Sheriff’s helicopter, they were taken into custody after a brief foot pursuit. The investigation resulted in the seizure of more than 450 marijuana plants, one handgun, and several items of stolen property including flat panel televisions, air condition units, and designer clothing and footwear. The large amount of marijuana found and other evidence seized at the location suggests the suspects had no intention of abiding by California’s medical marijuana laws or local ordinances relating to growing marijuana for medical purposes. Investigators determined the marijuana cultivation operation was illegal and not in compliance with California medical marijuana laws and the County’s ordinance prohibiting outdoor marijuana cultivation. The suspects were arrested and booked into the West Valley Detention Center. They will be charged with Cultivation of Marijuana. Their bail amounts are set $225,000. Additional charges of Possession of Stolen Property will be sent to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office at a later date. The case may be sent to the United States Attorney’s Office at the conclusion of the investigation for a review of criminal charges against the suspects. The County of San Bernardino has an ordinance prohibiting outdoor marijuana cultivations. The Sheriff’s Gangs/Narcotics Division will continue to enforce California marijuana laws as well as the San Bernardino County Ordinances regarding marijuana cultivation and distribution. Persons found to be violating state marijuana laws and/or county ordinances are subject to fines, prosecution and seizure of property. Anyone with information regarding the above investigation is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Gangs/Narcotics Division at (909) 890-4840. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or you may leave information on the We-Tip Hotline at www.wetip.com.
Suspects wanted for stealing a $1,266 saw from Mills Hardware
On June 17, 2016, two suspects (pictured) entered Mills Hardware in Phelan. The suspects placed a STIHL brand cut saw inside an empty trashcan and left the store without paying. The saw is valued at $1,266. SBC Sheriffs are asking for the communities’ assistance in identifying these suspects. Suspect #1 is described as a white male adult, 30-45 years of age, 5’8” tall, approximately 190 pounds. Suspect #2 is described as a white male adult, 5’7” - 6’, approximately 170 pounds. Anyone with any information is asked to contact Deputy Heather Hubbard at the Victor Valley Sheriff’s Station, Phelan Substation, 760-868-1006. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or you may leave information on the We-Tip Hotline at www.wetip.com.
Coroner Case # 701606741 On Friday, 09/16/2016, at 3:12 P.M., the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department - Dive Team recovered the body of a male adult at Silverwood Lake who was reported to have drowned there back on 08/20/2016. Once his identity has been determined and next of kin notified, his name will be released. The death is under investigation by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. [09172016 0340 EM]
These reports are from San Bernardino County Sheriff media call summary log. Information may be subject to change.
Beyond The Confusion
By Michael Palecki
With just 50 days remaining until Election Day, a sizeable number of voters are confused if not wallowing in ennui, about the leading Presidential candidates. Two national polls indicate one third of likely voters age 19 to 29 are considering voting for a third party candidate. In addition to that age group, there are probably a sizeable number of voters who at one time participated in protest votes but have since become more pragmatic. As a result we now have the Green Party and the Libertarian Party and Ralph Nader was able to be a Presidential candidate on four occasions. Currently, Bernie Sanders galvanized the third-party notion with his progressive movement “revolution” appealing to a large number of voters, but not enough. I was relieved last week when in a Washington Post interview Sanders commented, “Think hard before casting a protest vote. Elect Hillary Clinton and the day after, begin to mobilize millions of people around the progressive agenda that was passed on the Democratic Platform.” And while that means it will be some time before Sanders and Elizabeth Warren affect a change, it should encourage those on the fence to participate in that goal. On another issue pertaining to Presidential Debates, I have no vote of confidence for the mainstream news celebrities who just cannot steer either candidate towards pertinent issues that Americans are concerned about. And then reading an article by Bill Moyers I found the reason. Beginning in 1976, the League of Women Voters conducted Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates. But then in 1988 the League pulled out stating, “We firmly believe that those who report the news should not make the news.” At the same time, Walter Cronkite agreed and wrote, “The debates are part of the unconscionable fraud of our political campaigns...the candidates participate only with the guarantee of a format that defies meaningful discourse.” The official debates are now conducted by the Commission on Presidential Debates-a private corporation owned and controlled by the Democratic and Republican Parties, which dictates the format to news media moderators and forbids real time fact checking. And so, American voters are not only tethered to two leading candidates that are not presidential material, they are force fed a desirable image that supports the two party system. During the Commander-in-Chief Forum, lies were told with no accountability for the truth. For debate viewers, a first impression remains valid unless accuracy is questioned immediately. Afterwards is too late for fact checking. People move on in their busy daily lives and will continue to believe what Donald or Hillary said on TV as the truth. The position of a moderator is to preside over a debate and to question radical or extreme accusations.
Films, Books and Politics
By John Cromshow
Snowden is Oliver Stone’s latest film. It is a fictionalized account of the life and times of Edward Snowden who released classified documents. It has made him a hero in some circles, a traitor in others. Both major party political candidates have spoken out against him, so at least they have that in common. In Snowden Stone takes us behind the scenes of Citizenfour winner of an Academy Award for best Documentary Feature in 2015. Filmmaker Laura Poitras and reporter Glen Greenwald put their careers and liberty on the line to make the documentary. They were awarded the Pulitzer Prize. “Snowden” is in theaters and Citizenfour is available on HBO. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy is a book that became a film. Author Greg Palast is an investigative reporter who’s worked overseas for the BBC. He provides evidence to show that elections in the United States have been stolen in the past and efforts are underway to steal this one. Palast has been making appearances all over town to promote his film. A couple of weeks ago he appeared on “Coast to Coast” with George Noory. On Monday, thanks to his publicist, he was on my show, “Politics or pedagogy?” He even removed his trademark fedora during the interview. If you’d like to hear the show send me an email request and I’ll forward you a link. The Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection is the latest book by political activist Medea Benjamin. She and Jodie Evans co-founded Code Pink fourteen years ago. Benjamin told an audience that one of her supporters got into trouble in Congress for carrying a sign that read, “I can’t believe we’re still protesting this sh*t.” In her presentation she pointed out the double standard that is applied to Saudi Arabia compared to other countries in the Middle East. Congress finally passed a bill, fifteen years after 911, allowing U.S. citizens to sue Saudi Arabia. Why? Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudi. President Obama said he will veto it. The Washington Post has joined the voices condemning the effort to ask the President to grant Snowden a pardon. Journalist Glenn Greenwald noted online in the Intercept that the newspaper won a Pulitzer for reporting on documents Snowden released to them. That’s another story. Have you ever been interested in films books and politics? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.