Valley People

by AVA News Service, November 13, 2013

THIS SEASON'S FIRST home invasion occurred last Tuesday morning, November 5th, between 3 and 4am when four masked Mexican males, estimated ages 20-40, armed with a pistol and a rifle, took jewelry and 16 pounds of marijuana from a Rays Road (Philo) residence. Victims heard a vehicle drive off but said they did not see it. The victims also said they could not identify the bandits. Deputy Walker was quickly at the scene, as were converging reinforcements who'd hope to intercept the fleeing robbers, but they could not be found. The episode remains under investigation.

ON TUESDAY (November 12th), the Humboldt County Bomb Squad disposed of 60 pounds of old explosives found on the Hulbert Ranch, Philo. The ancient dyno dates from pre-World War Two when there were no restrictions on sales. Ranchers used the stuff to blow up stumps and for road building. The leftover cache was discovered as current residents were cleaning out an old barn.

ANDRES AVILA, newly installed Chief of the Anderson Valley Fire Department, reports on last Tuesday afternoon's (November 5th) fires: “At 12:25 Anderson Valley Fire received a dispatch for a structure fire 5 miles north of Mountain House Road. The fire was located on the Vidmar Ranch in Yorkville, which was reported by both passing vehicles and local residents who could see the black smoke rising from it from miles away. Anderson Valley Fire with Cal Fire engines and aircraft quickly gained containment on the surrounding vegetation fire at 1.5 acres and were able to protect several immediate structures in the area. Both AVFD and Cal Fire units continued overhaul operations into the night until 8:30pm when the last engines were released from the scene. The residence was a total loss and the cause of fire is still being investigated, but there has been no evidence of suspicious activity.

“A SECOND structure fire on Smith Hills Road (Holmes Ranch) was reported at 1:35pm while we were still engaged in the Yorkville incident. Three of our volunteers who were in the area reported the smoke and responded. Cal Fire Helitack was released from the Yorkville incident and arrived at the same time as our Anderson Valley firefighters and were able to fight off an advancing fire on a compromised structure. This vegetation fire was approximately 2 acres and had already consumed a well house and a workshop by the time firefighters arrived. Cal Fire and AVFD units contained this fire and were released from scene at 5:30pm. The cause of this fire is also not considered suspicious and is being investigated.

“IN BOTH CASES, the fires were reported late because there were no persons at either location when they started; both were reported after the smoke columns from them were large enough to create a concern. Also in both cases the properties had been provided some fire hazard reduction around the property, which assisted the fire crews in containment. This has been one of the driest years on record and the normal November rains have not brought us out of fire season just yet. The risk of wildfire is still very present in our valley and I would ask that we all use extreme caution until the true wet weather arrives.”

ACCORDING to the National Weather Service we might be headed for the driest winter ever. Monday's predicted “storm” arrived without water. Predictions had been downgraded Sunday to “sprinkles,” but even the sprinkles failed to fall.

THE STATE'S reservoirs are all well below their normal carrying capacity, according to Arthur Hinojosa, the chief of hydrology and flood operations for the California Department of Water Resources. “Generally speaking, it has been dry across the state, and it has been remarkably dry where the population centers are and where the bulk of the water storage is,” Hinojosa said. “Most operators plan on multiyear dry years, but nobody plans on as dry as we've seen.”

NO RAIN is also extending the fire season. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has responded to 6,439 fires this year, almost 2,000 more fires than during an average year, said Battalion Chief Julie Hutchinson. That doesn't include fires on federal land like the Rim Fire, which burned 400 square miles in and around the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park. “We've seen about a 39 percent increase in activity compared to an average year,” Hutchinson said. “There have been more fires and more frequent fires, which is due to the lack of rainfall and the dryness. We also saw a significant number of fires statewide in higher elevation timber stands, which you normally don't see. That's because of the lack of snowfall.” We're not done yet,” she said. “There are still areas of the state that are very dry, so we're really not going to be able to take a deep breath until we have a significant amount of moisture.”

CON CREEK, which flows out of the Peachland hills to Anderson Creek near the Elementary School, had gone completely dry by late August. Its flow resumed with the one scant rain we had, and has flowed ever since. Just sayin,' but I wouldn't be surprised if dope growers hadn't diverted Con Creek much of the summer, liberating it with that one rain when outdoor pot growers all over the County hustled to get their crops in before they mildewed.

INDIAN CREEK was also greatly reduced during pot season, and I'm told there are more growers than ever deep in the Indian Creek Canyon.

SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN, in civvies, popped into Lauren's last Thursday night to play Trivia, joining Muriel Ellis's team to help Muriel and Co. finish a strong second to Vinegar Ridge (aka “The Ancient Geeks”). After introducing himself to his teammates — who promptly reciprocated by naming the team “The Inmates.” The Sheriff, who is also something of a celebrity tuba player in local beer-barrel polka circles, also made inquiries of local artist and musician Nadia Berrigan about sitting in with Bob Ayres’ Big Band which, as we know, is in serious need of some baritone ooomph. Boonville! Mendocino County's most happening community!

DEPUTY, and now part-time detective, Luis Espinoza, will coach varsity basketball at Anderson Valley High School this season. The popular deputy was a pretty good hoopster himself back in his days as a Panther.

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