A federal judge Thursday blamed uninsulated power conductors owned by PG&E for the bulk of Northern California’s wildfires the past two years – including the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County – adding to the legal woes the utility is confronting.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who is overseeing the company’s criminal probation from the 2010 San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion, said he has tentatively concluded that uninsulated power conductors lie at the heart of the wildfire crisis that has plunged PG&E into bankruptcy.
Alsup made his tentative conclusion as part of his plan, announced a week ago, to force PG&E to embark on a massive equipment inspection and tree-pruning program in advance of the upcoming fire season. He has given PG&E until next Wednesday to respond to that plan, which could also call for widespread blackouts this summer when winds gust to dangerous levels.
San Luis Obispo County Tribune
Firefighters, aided by a helicopter, rescued about two dozen people trapped by rising waters along the rain-swollen Santa Ana River on Thursday as an intense storm moved through the Inland Empire.
Those rescued were from several homeless encampments along the riverbed as it courses by Riverside on its eastern bank and Jurupa Valley on the west.
No injuries were reported.
Not everyone wanted to leave, said Cal Fire/Riverside County Capt. Jason Wachter. He was a member of one of the two boat crews that rescued 14 people.
Some were plucked to safety by a Cal Fire helicopter, others were guided out with rope lines, and others managed to walk out on their own. Some of the stranded were huddled on spots of land that had become islands.
Fr. Robert Rien, with his warm, infectious smile and seemingly boundless energy, has the rare ability to make everyone feel like the most important person in the room – a trait that serves him well in his role as chaplain for the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD).
Rien, who is also pastor at St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Church, has been ECCFPD’s chaplain for two years and brings to the role his 45 years of experience in the priesthood and nearly as many years experience as chaplain for organizations like the U.S. Air Force, the Oakland Fire Department, the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and the Antioch Police Department. His path to the role with ECCFPD began when he met Brian Helmick in 2007, long before Helmick moved to his current role as fire chief.
“It’s been a phenomenal experience being able to be with them,” said Rien. “I’m deeply grateful to Brian (Helmick) for bringing me on board. As I’ve gotten to know (the firefighters) better, I’ve been invited into their homes. I’ve met their wives, their children, their families.”
Alameda County prosecutors are seeking an order that would ban the Ghost Ship warehouse fire defendants and their attorneys from talking to the news media about the high-profile case.
The District Attorney's proposed gag order, which technically is called a "protective order," will be debated at a hearing on Friday morning in front of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson, who recently was assigned to preside over the trial of Ghost Ship master tenant Derick Almena and creative director Max Harris.
Almena, 48, and Harris, 28, are charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the fire during a music party at the warehouse at 1309 31st Ave. on Dec. 2, 2016, which killed 36 people.
If the motion by prosecutors Autrey James and David Lim is granted the order would ban Almena, Harris, their attorneys and witnesses and anyone acting on their behalf from talking to the media.
KNTV-TV NBC 11 Bay Area
The Menlo Park Fire Protection District announced Thursday the purchase of a one-story, two-bedroom single family dwelling for $941,000 in the Belle Haven area of Menlo Park.
The house, located at 1457 Chilco St., is 790 square feet and is directly next door to Fire Station 77 at 1467 Chilco St.
Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said in a statement released Thursday the house will be used as an office and base of operations.
During the last 12 years, the Menlo Park Fire Protection District has purchased homes and properties next to six of its seven fire stations, according to the release. Two of those stations have been rebuilt and modernized to meet current life safety codes and performance standards needed to make the facilities more resilient, safe and functional for firefighters, according to the release.
KNTV-TV NBC 11 Bay Area
Firefighters treated four patients including a sheriff's deputy at the courthouse in Santa Ana after a package was opened that made them feel ill, officials said.
A sheriff's deputy opened a package on the third floor of the courthouse and several people immediately felt ill, officials said.
An Orange County hazardous materials team and the bomb squad responded around 2:30 p.m. and that area of the courthouse was blocked off, though the rest of the complex continued operations.
Court was not in session in that room at the time.
Authorities haven't determined yet what substance is involved. The Sheriff's Department said three civilians and one deputy were treated and were transported to a local hospital. They underwent decontamination before being transported. They were not considered to have life-threatening injuries.
KABC-TV ABC 7 Los Angeles