Fire in Fortuna/ Newburg Rd. Closed [Now Opened]

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, March 18 @ 6:45 p.m. /

Fortuna Police Release:

Please be advised that Newburg Rd is currently closed from 12th Street to Fortuna Boulevard for a fire incident. Please avoid the area if possible

We’ll update as soon as possible.

UPDATE 6: 50 p.m.: According to the Fortuna Police dispatch, Newburg road is now open. There was a house fire that emitted a great deal of smoke. The road temporarily needed to be closed for safety reasons.

Again we’ll update with more information about the house fire when that information is available. 

UPDATE 7: 50 p.m.: According to the Fortuna Fire Chief, Lon Winburn, the incident occurred in the 1700 block of Newburg. Winburg said only a minor amount of damage took place and no one was injured.

A pan of grease on the stove got out of control but firefighters were quickly able to put it out. Newburg Road was blocked for a short amount of time. Fortuna police responded to help with traffic control. “We had it closed for about 30 minutes,” said Winburg. 

Motorcycle Accident Near Carlotta Last Night/[Fatal]

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, March 18 @ 6:57 a.m. /  News

CHP dispatch reported that last night around 11:15 there was a motorcycle and vehicle traffic collision out Hwy 36 near Wilson Lane east of Carlotta. Hwy 36 was closed in both directions for a time. The motorcyclist was reported to have had major injuries.

UPDATE 7:30 a.m.: CHP spokesman Matt Harvey stated that the motorcyclist did not survive this accident. Harvey explained that at 11:11 p.m. Krystal Layns, age 31 of Eureka was headed westbound on Hwy 36 driving her 2005 Ford Focus near Monroe Lane in Carlotta when a motorcyclist driving a 2000 Harley Davidson Buell headed east drifted over the double yellow lines and hit her vehicle head on.

The motorcyclist, name not yet released, sustained fatal injuries even though he was wearing protective gear.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation. DUI hasn’t been ruled out. 

Carlotta VFD, City Ambulance of Fortuna, Caltrans as well as CHP all responded. Hwy 36 was closed for approximately one hour. There was one way controlled traffic for approximately another hour.

UPDATE 7:35 a.m.:

CHP Press Release:

On March 17, 2014, at 11:11 pm, 31 year old Krystal Layns of Eureka, CA, was driving her 2005 Ford Focus westbound on SR-36 at Monroe Lane (a private road) in Carlotta, CA, at 45 mph.  A motorcyclist was riding his 2000 Harley Davidson Buell motorcycle eastbound approaching Monroe Lane at an unknown speed.  For reasons still under investigation, the motorcyclist allowed his motorcycle to cross over the double yellow lines completely into the westbound lane of SR-36 where it collided head-on into the Ford.  The motorcyclist was fully ejected from his motorcycle, sustained fatal injuries and died at the scene.  Layns appeared completely un-injured.

SR-36 was closed in both directions for just over an hour.  One-way traffic control was in affect from 12:23 am until 1:30 am. 

The motorcyclist was wearing protective equipment including a helmet, and Layns was wearing her seatbelt.

DUI as a factor in this collision is still under investigation with the assistance of the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office.  Layns was not impaired.  

The name of the motorcyclist is withheld pending coroner notification to his family.

Carlotta Volunteer Fire Department, City Ambulance of Fortuna and CalTrans personnel and equipment assisted CHP officers with the scene.


US Forest Service Officer Released From Hospital Following Being Struck by a Suspect Vehicle This Weekend

Kym Kemp / Monday, March 17 @ 8:49 p.m. /  Crime

The US Forest Service officer rammed by a silver Jeep Saturday evening while attempting to make a traffic stop has been released from the hospital. The officers involved in the incident have yet to all be interviewed so aspects of the story are unclear.

Here’s what we do know:

On Saturday in the early afternoon, two individuals in a silver Jeep  were involved in a misdemeanor assault and battery near Ruth in Trinity County but left the area before law enforcement arrived.

Lt. Wayne Hanson of the Humboldt Count Sheriff’s Office said, shortly before 9 p.m., a US Forest Service officer saw a silver Jeep Liberty parked alongside Hwy 36 near mile marker 40 about eight miles west of the Trinity County line.  The officer stopped and attempted to interview the driver. The driver of the Jeep left the scene rapidly and struck the officer. There were shots fired after the Jeep as the driver fled west along Hwy 36. The officers involved have yet to be interviewed (in part because the one struck was injured and taken to a hospital and, in part, because it is standard procedure to wait a day or two.)

A BOLO (Be on the Lookout) was quickly sent to other law enforcement agencies. According to Sgt. Martin Abshire of the California Highway Patrol, two CHP vehicles were on their way to assist When the first CHP officer encountered the silver jeep about 12 miles west of where the US Forest Service officer was injured.

The officer turned around and began following the jeep with lights and siren on. The Jeep driver not only failed to stop but turned around and began heading east.  As the Jeep began the turn, the CHP officer attempted to use a PIT Maneuver (See here for an explanation)  to make the suspect lose control of his vehicle. The maneuver was unsuccessful. The CHP officer’s car was disabled. The jeep left the scene followed by the second CHP officer but was soon abandoned by the driver who ran off into the woods near mile marker 28. The suspect is still being sought.


Bomb Squad Disposes of Old Dynamite Located in Barn

Kym Kemp / Monday, March 17 @ 3:54 p.m. /  News

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Press Release:

On 03-14-2014, at approximately 2:00 p .m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was notified by a property owner on Chezem Lane, Redwood Valley that he located three cases of dynamite in a barn. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad responded to the scene and confirmed the three boxes contained dynamite. The dynamite appeared to be very old, and the property owner told the deputies it had been in the barn approximately 40 years or more. The dynamite was wet in appearance and crystalized which indicated it was very unstable. The Bomb Squad Deputies cordoned off the area and called for fire and medical to stage. Over a two day period the deputies were able to render the dynamite safe and dispose of it.

The Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad gets two to four calls a year to deal with old dynamite. According to Sheriff’s Bomb Squad Sergeant Ernie Stewart, “Any friction can cause detonation of old nitroglycerin based dynamite. You never want to touch it or move it. Call 911 immediately if you find it and clear the area. It can be extremely unstable.”

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Looking for Missing Rio Dell Woman

Kym Kemp / Monday, March 17 @ 3:09 p.m. /  News

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Press Release:

On 3-13-2014, at approximately 7:30 p.m., the Fortuna Police Department forwarded a missing person report to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. The missing person is Sheila Franks, 37 years old known to live in Rio Dell and Loleta. Her mother called to report her missing, because her family had not heard from Sheila in the last month and a half. Sheila has been very consistent with communicating with her son, which has not occurred for over a month and is very out of character for Sheila. Shelia was last seen in Eureka on 01-11-14.

Sheila Franks is described as: White female, 37 years old, strawberry blond hair, blue eyes, 5’5” tall and approximately 120 lbs.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

These photos provided by the family show Sheila Franks on the left.

Predicted Drought Causes State to Streamline Water Storage Approval Process

Kym Kemp / Monday, March 17 @ 11:20 a.m. /  News

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Press Release:

As the unprecedented drought continues in California, a number of the state’s coastal rivers and streams are in danger of reaching critically low stages later this summer, threatening rural drinking water supplies. But plans are now in place to assist landowners that store water for use later in the season through a state program.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced today that they will expedite approval for the installation of storage tanks by landowners who currently divert water from these important rivers and streams. The action comes under the State Water Board’s Small Domestic Use (SDU) registration program.

Installing tanks to divert and store water when flows are higher will help improve rural water supply reliability and fire safety while also relieving pressure for in-stream diversions during the drier months when fish need it most.

The State Water Board has an existing statewide registration program for domestic use of water, allowing home water uses such as drinking and fire protection. These small domestic registrations must comply with general conditions from the State Water Board and typically receive project specific conditions from CDFW.

Landowners eligible for the SDU program currently can request approval to divert to storage. However, this can be a lengthy process requiring site-specific evaluations that address in-stream and habitat needs.

With today’s action, CDFW has essentially “pre-approved” the installation of storage tanks that meet the general criteria. The State Water Board has agreed to incorporate these criteria as conditions of approval, and to expedite the issuance of the registrations. This action will result in the collection of water during any upcoming precipitation events, taking advantage of higher flows, and using the stored water later in the season when there may be little to no water available.

Some of these water tanks can provide months of storage to meet domestic water supply needs.

We have been working in these coastal communities for many years, and have good reason to believe that these emergency changes are going to be welcomed,” said Charlton H. Bonham, Director of CDFW. “Many landowners who have wanted to take these steps can do so now more quickly with greater regulatory certainty from our department.”

This action is designed to capture water when it is raining and right after rain events. It is not designed to expand any applicant’s existing water right or amount of diversion. Capturing rain when it falls from the sky and storing it for use later can also help reduce the impacts to fish and wildlife from diverting water from streams during the driest times of the summer.

Today’s action was the direct result of suggestions made by local communities and fish conservation organizations such as Trout Unlimited, Mattole River Sanctuary Forest and the Salmonid Restoration Federation.

The drought is going to be really hard for fish and wildlife as well as agriculture and people,” said State Water Board Executive Officer Tom Howard. “CDFW and the State Water Board are open to any solution from any corner of the state on how to make it through these tough times together.”

Expedited permitting is available to applicants that meet all of the criteria set forth in the program. SDU program eligibility can be found [here.]

Eligible parties are those that are already diverting from a stream under a riparian basis of right in CDFW Regions 1 or 3. The party should be diverting for domestic and fire protection use only, and has or will install a rigid style water storage tank. The storage tank should be big enough in size to store at least 60 days of water supply for the house.

Parties who are eligible will need to accept the general CDFW conditions, most importantly that they will use the stored water as a substitute for withdrawing additional water during the summer when flows are lowest. The State Water Board will expedite processing of registration forms where the party meets the CDFW eligibility criteria.

This will help protect fish during periods of low stream flow, especially this year with the drought conditions.

With California facing one of the most severe droughts on record, Governor Brown declared a drought State of Emergencyand directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages. The Governor signed legislation to immediately help communities deal with the devastating dry conditions affecting our state and to provide funding to increase local water supplies after it was passed with bipartisan support in the legislature.

Governor Brown met with President Obama about crucial federal support during the ongoing drought, and the statecontinues to work with federal partners to ensure coordinated drought monitoring and response. Governor Brown and the administration have also expressed support for federal legislation introduced by Senators Feinstein and Boxer and Representatives Jim Costa, Tony Cárdenas and Sam Farr.

Across state government, action is being taken. The Department of General Services is leading water conservation efforts at state facilities, and the California State Architect has asked California school districts and Community Colleges to act on the Governor’s call to reduce water usage.

The Department of Transportation is cutting water usage along California’s roadways by 50 percent. Caltrans has also launched a public awareness campaign, putting a water conservation message on their more than 700 electronic highway signs.

In January, the state took action to conserve water in numerous Northern California reservoirs to meet minimum needs for operations impacting the environment and the economy, and recently the Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced they would seek the authority to make water exchanges to deliver water to those who need it most. The State Water Resources Control Board announced it would work with hydropower generators and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to preserve water in California reservoirs, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Fish and Game Commission restricted fishing on some waterways due to low water flows worsened by the drought.

The state is working to protect local communities from the dangers of extreme drought. The California Department of Public Health identified and offered assistance to communities at risk of severe drinking water shortages and is working with other state and local agencies to develop solutions for vulnerable communities. CAL FIRE hired additional firefighters and is continuously adjusting staffing throughout the state to help address the increased fire threat due to drought conditions. The California Department of Food and Agriculture launched a drought website to help farmers, ranchers and farmworkers find resources and assistance programs that may be available to them during the drought.

Even as the state deals with the immediate impacts of the drought, it’s also planning for the future. In 2013, the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency and CDFA released the California Water Action Plan, which will guide state efforts to enhance water supply reliability, restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems and improve the resilience of our infrastructure.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent, and the Save Our Water campaign launched four public service announcements encouraging residents to conserve and has resources available in Spanish. Last December, the Governor formed a Drought Task Force to review expected water allocations and California’s preparedness for water scarcity. In May 2013, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order to direct state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water.

High Surf Advisory Today

Kym Kemp / Sunday, March 16 @ 10:59 a.m. /  Weather

High Surf advisory from the US National Weather Service.