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In the News -
Friday, JUNE 15, 2007
Cigarette causes wildland fire
Anyone who has attempted to maneuver in or out of Kaweah
River Drive just below the Dinely Bridge knows that there is barely enough
right-of-way for two conventional vehicles to pass and caution is the
rule of the road. Now imagine a scene where a wildland blaze threatens
both riverbanks and local residents can’t get in or out.
That was the scenario for some very tense moments Friday,
June 8, following a frantic emergency call to the Cal Fire dispatcher
at 6 p.m. As 15-foot flame lengths consumed riverfront vegetation near
Southern California’s Powerhouse No. 2, some residents were not
quite sure what to do or if the airborne embers might spread to nearby
From evidence gathered at the scene, the fire started on
an island in the riverbed located directly across from Powerhouse No.
2 by a careless fisherman who had placed a lighted cigarette in a notch
of a log. It wasn’t long before the cigarette ignited some duff
and dead brush that has built up in the vicinity for the last decade.
The June 8 fire served as a trial run for how area stations,
both Cal Fire and Tulare County (TCFD) units, will respond to Three Rivers
incidents after July 1, when Tulare County firefighters are officially
deployed. Cal Fire engines from the Three Rivers and Woodlake stations
both responded as well two TCFD units from Three Rivers and a water tender
from Lemon Cove.
The fire, with the assistance of two Porterville air tankers,
was confined to the small island in the channel of the river and determined
to be contained by 9 p.m. Several firefighters remained on the scene for
a couple more hours to ensure that there were no flare-ups.
3R drivers involved
Highway 198 accidents
A series of local accidents that occurred last week indicate
that the odds of being involved in an automobile accident are greatly
increased during the summer months and within mere miles of one’s
In a Wednesday, June 6, incident, a 56-year-old Three Rivers
man pulled out of Pierce Drive onto Sierra Drive and evidently never saw
a 1989 Toyota pickup heading westbound and also driven by a Three Rivers
motorist. The driver of the first vehicle, a 1993 Mercury Sable, sideswiped
the approaching pickup and narrowly avoided a terrible accident.
Both drivers were shaken but not seriously injured. The 56-year-old
driver was arrested at the scene and charged with DUI.
The CHP estimates that in addition to the serious accidents
caused by drunk drivers, the financial impact of a conviction routinely
In the next mishap, which occurred on the morning of Thursday,
June 7, and involved a 2003 Ford Excursion being driven eastbound, the
driver swerved suddenly and left the roadway for no apparent reason. It
is uncertain as to the cause of the accident and what happened after the
SUV became airborne.
The driver of the SUV, a 22-year-old female resident of North
Fork Drive was not seriously injured in the crash. The vehicle, which
reportedly rolled over, was a total loss.
On Saturday, June 9, a 20-year-old Three Rivers motorist
was driving a 2007 Toyota pickup eastbound towing his bass boat. As he
approached the left turn lane to the marina, his vehicle sideswiped another
pickup driven by a Lake Kaweah park ranger that was waiting to turn left.
Both drivers sustained minor injuries. The driver towing
the boat was not cited and the vehicles were only slightly damaged.
In addition to auto accidents, Lake Kaweah visitors have
reported several vehicle break-ins that have occurred since the Memorial
Day weekend in boat-ramp parking areas. Many recreational users, who in
the past frequented the now-closed BLM sites on the North Fork, are now
visiting Lake Kaweah and, one victim alleges, may be responsible for the
spike in criminal activity.
East Fork pot garden uprooted
When the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department’s
all-too familiar truck rolled through Three Rivers shortly after 2 p.m.
on Wednesday (June 13), it wasn’t very difficult to figure out what
was happening. Another pot-growing operation had been eradicated in steep
mountainous terrain, this one being near the intersection of Mineral King
Road and the Oriole Lake/Milk Ranch cutoff.
According to an unconfirmed report, the current raid was
linked to a suspect or suspects that were detained in Three Rivers at
3:30 a.m. earlier that day. After that confrontation, the department’s
tactical team (STEP) determined it was time to conduct the raid.
Several STEP personnel were dropped into the remote garden
location on Bureau of Land Management land where they removed 16,267 marijuana
plants. In the course of the raid, STEP operatives discovered a plant
nursery nearby that contained another 16,149 plants.
In total, the growing complex contained nearly 30,000 plants
with an estimated street value in excess of $116 million.
The Sheriff’s Department is currently developing information
on several more garden locations and hopes to arrest more suspects.
in at local book club
The June meeting of a monthly book club gathering was held
at the home of Marilyn Sparks in Three Rivers on Thursday, June 7. The
group members had been simultaneously reading The Last Season,
by Eric Blehm, and since the author happened to be visiting Three Rivers
and Sequoia National Park last week to conduct research for his latest
project, he stopped in at the meeting to discuss his book.
The Last Season, published in 2006, is the true
story of the disappearance and subsequent search for Sequoia-Kings Canyon
National Park backcountry ranger Randy Morgenson. A paperback edition
was released earlier this year.
The members of the book club spent the evening discussing
the legendary ranger, search-and-rescue-techniques, National Park Service
policy, and the alluring High Sierra backcountry. They were able to query
the author, as well as Pat Macha, a colleague of Eric’s and aircraft
archaeologist, and Alexandra Picavet, Sequoia-Kings Canyon public information
officer, who were all special guests.
always get a very engaged group when I am able to attend a reading group
in the Sierra region,” said Eric. “The Three Rivers group
was one of the best; their questions about Randy and the backcountry rangers
were drawn, obviously, from people who are well read and have a deep love
and respect for these mountains.”
The Last Season was a winner of the 2006 National
Outdoor Book Award. It was a finalist at the Banff Mountain Book Festival
and was named Book of the Year by American Way, the American Airlines
The paperback version has an additional 16 pages, which includes
a dedication to Patty Rambert, who was killed in a mountaineering accident
in Kings Canyon National Park in May 2006; an essay by the protagonist
himself, Randy Morgenson; and the author’s postscripts.
The book is available for sale at park visitor centers and
at major retailers.
Local Measure R
The Three Rivers district has some county roads in need of
repair and now with Measure R money being collected, it appears that at
least some of that work will be completed soon. The upcoming repairs,
that are being scheduled for fiscal year 2007-08, were announced at last
Monday’s Three Rivers Town Hall meeting.
The meeting, Supervisor Ishida explained, was one of 24 that
are being held in rural communities to prioritize road repairs in outlying
areas of the county. Jean Brou, county public works official, estimated
the cost of resurfacing work at $150,000 per mile.
The repair projects that are planned initially for Three
Rivers are Cherokee Oaks Drive from Sierra Drive to the first turn (0.18
miles) and South Fork Drive from milepost 4.5 for 1.2 miles up-canyon.
County officials will issue a formal statement relative to
other funding priorities that were suggested at the recent meeting, including
the widening of Cherokee Oaks Drive and the addition of a left-turn pocket
for its intersection with SR 198 (Sierra Drive). The left-turn pocket,
Ishida said, can only be accomplished with the cooperation of Caltrans.
VBS plans summer event
During next month’s VBS, the classic story will be
told of four children from London who are sent to the British countryside
for their own safety during World War II. Arlin Talley, pastor of Community
Presbyterian Church, will lead the presentation of “The Lion, the
Witch and the Wardrobe” for the children.
Vacation Bible School is scheduled for the week of July 23
at St. Anthony Retreat. It will be held Monday through Friday with extended
hours, from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The kids will travel through the Wardrobe and learn about
the magical land of Narnia as well as the true meaning of this tale. C.S.
Lewis purposely wrote fantasy adventures in such a way that children could
easily relate to and remember the scriptural truths that lie therein.
He also wrote so they would internalize the tales and their
meanings for living life.
Children— Currently, a committee of volunteers will
be calling as many Three Rivers families as possible to let them know
about this year’s VBS and register children. Anyone who has not
yet been called and would like their child(ren) to attend VBS should call
Assistants— Local teenagers are invited to help out
during the week. This volunteer opportunity will earn approximately 20
hours of community service credits. Teen helpers are required to attend
an orientation meeting on Thursday, July 19, 7 pm, at St. Anthony Retreat.
Donations— Current needs include artificial Christmas
trees, white sheets and fabric, and bright, solid-colored fabrics for
set decorations. Also, volunteers are needed for Sunday, July 22, to set
up for the event. Finally, adults are needed throughout the week to assist
with the children.
To register, volunteer, or donate, call Chris Leyva, 561-3451;
Portia Gunnerud, 561-3302; or Arlin Talley at Community Presbyterian,
The following are California residents killed in Iraq during
the past three weeks as announced by the governor’s office:
U.S. Army Corporal Victor H. Toledo Pulido,
22, of Hanford died Saturday, May 23, as a result of injuries sustained
when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Nahrawan,
U.S. Army Private First Class Daniel P. Cagle,
22, of Carson died Saturday, May 23, as a result of wounds suffered when
an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit in Balad, Iraq.
U.S. Army Specialist Mark R. C. Caguioa,
21, of Stockton died Sunday, May 24, as a result of wounds suffered when
the vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device in Baghdad,
U.S. Army Sergeant Clayton G. Dunn II, 22,
of Moreno Valley died Tuesday, May 26, as a result of wounds suffered
when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Salah
Ad Din Province, Iraq.
U.S. Army Specialist Gregory N. Millard,
22, of San Diego died as a result of wounds suffered when an improvised
explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Salah Ad Din Province,
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Thomas M. McFall,
36, of Glendora died Thursday, May 28, as a result of wounds suffered
when an improvised explosive device detonated near his position during
a dismounted patrol in Baghdad, Iraq.
Iraq area: 3,511 (as of June 11)
Afghanistan area: 321 (as of May 12)