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San Benito County Public Safety Digest

First-of-Its-Kind Fund Provides Support to Reduce Wildfire Risks


The State of California will provide new protections for prescribed fire and cultural burning practitioners. The $20 million allocated for the Prescribed Fire Liability Claims Fund Pilot will cover losses in the rare instance that a prescribed or cultural burn escapes control.

Four Things California Can Do as Home Insurers Pull Back From the State


After California’s largest home insurance provider said it wouldn’t issue new policies, consumer and insurance industry groups have ideas for what they’d like to see California do. Here’s how the debate over four of those ideas shakes out.

California Defendants are More Likely to Go Free When They Meet Lawyers Early


Californians accused of crimes spend an average of five days waiting to see a lawyer. Shortening that time can help them keep their jobs, and spend less time in jail.

Judge Allows Use of Fire Retardant While Permit Pends


The U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ruled the U.S. Forest Service can continue to use aerial fire retardant to fight wildfires while waiting on a Clean Water Act permit.

The New Payday Loans? California Moves to Regulate Cash Advance Apps


In May, a video featured a young woman named Brooklyn imploring viewers to tell the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation about the importance of EarnIn, part of a relatively new app-based industry that provides cash advances to people based on their wages.

FBI, EPA Investigating Hazardous Chemical Release from Martinez Refinery


The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice started assisting the Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation this week.

California Bill Could Help Improve Firefighters’ Mental Health


After unanimously clearing the Senate, a bill expanding first responders' access to workers’ comp for PTSD moves to the Assembly.

False Lockdown Announcement Stirs Panic at Hollister High School


“This is not a drill” were the words Hollister High School students heard over the school’s loudspeaker on May 18. Those words sent a wave of fear in the Hollister High community. Afterwards, the school explained it was caused by a glitch in the automated bell schedule.

Aerial Fire Retardant Drops Attacked as Ineffective, Harmful


For most Californians, the sight of aircraft spewing neon pink liquid over flaming trees and brush has become a hallmark of aggressive wildfire suppression campaigns. But some forest advocates say the substance does more harm than good. A federal lawsuit could reshape how the U.S. Forest Service battles wildfires throughout the western United States.

New Bill Would Limit Sprawl in Disaster-Prone Areas


Sprawl has allowed Californians to live closer to nature and buy homes where it is cheaper to build. But it has also left millions vulnerable to wildfires and flooding.

Releasing Metallic Balloons May Cause Power Outages


More metallic balloons are sold for Valentine’s Day than any other holiday; not surprisingly, it’s also around this time of year that PG&E sees an uptick in outages.

PG&E Proposal May Raise Rates


Higher monthly bills might jolt PG&E customers in the wake of the utility's request for additional revenue due to the company's spending on wildfire mitigation and catastrophic events.

California Firefighters Get Shorter Workweeks—But Not for 2 Years


Facing a mental health crisis, Cal Fire crews sought less of a workload. But they have to wait two years under their new contract.

SJB Declares Property a Public Nuisance


A special San Juan Bautista City Council meeting was held on Nov. 29 to allow public comment on the city’s ongoing attempts to resolve violations of its floodplain ordinance occurring at 451 San Juan Hollister Road, a property owned by Kulta Farms LLC.

BLM Central Coast Lifts Fire Restrictions


The Bureau of Land Management Central Coast Field Office lifted its seasonal fire restrictions on Nov. 7 on approximately 300,000 acres of public land due to reduced wildland fire potential.

Amazon to Pay Nearly $5 Million in Settlement


The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has reached a $4.97 million legal agreement with online retail giant Services for the illegal sale of pesticides in the state.

PG&E Facing $155 Million Fine Over Fatal 2020 Zogg Fire


State regulators plan to impose a $155.4 million fine against PG&E Corp. over the Zogg Fire, which killed four people in Shasta County. PG&E is already under criminal indictment in the fire, and has pleaded innocent to manslaughter and other charges.

Study: Cancer-Causing Gas Leaking From California Stoves, Pipes


Gas stoves in California homes are leaking cancer-causing benzene, researchers found in a new study, though they say more research is needed to understand how many homes have leaks.

Study: 2020 Wildfires Reversed Years of Climate Change Progress


A study by researchers at UCLA and the University of Chicago says that California’s wildfires of 2020 destroyed 4.2 million acres of forest—and erased years of progress the state made on battling climate change.

State Tells Insurers to Offer Discounts to Homeowners Who Prep for Wildfires


Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, trying to ease an insurance crisis that’s hurt rural California, has announced that all carriers active in fire-prone communities must incorporate his “Safer from Wildfires” program into their premiums.

Consultant Reports on PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Woes


According to the first in a series of reports to come from a consulting firm hired by California officials, PG&E’s efforts to improve wildfire safety are hindered by aging equipment, damaged power poles and hazardous trees that went undetected by the utility’s crews.

New Limits Recommended for Building Homes in High-Risk Areas


One of California’s top elected officials announced steps to limit how developments can be built in areas that are at highest risk of wildfire. Attorney General Rob Bonta released guidelines for local governments to follow when they are deciding whether to approve subdivisions in the “wildland urban interface.”

San Juan Elementary School May Have to Move


A seismic survey due by the end of November will reveal whether San Juan Elementary School will have to be extensively modernized and retrofitted or moved entirely because of its proximity to the San Andreas Fault.

Hollister High Campus Now Equipped With 95 Surveillance Cameras


Hollister High School installed 20 video surveillance cameras over the summer, for a total of 95. The school says the cameras are intended to provide school staff and faculty with a way to monitor the campus during emergency, or to watch for crimes or altercations.

Amber Alert Turns 20


The California Highway Patrol is marking the two-decade anniversary of the Amber Alert system. Hundreds of abducted children have been found and returned safely to their families following its implementation in 2002.

Smoke from Wildfires Puts Cats at Risk of Deadly Blood Clots


Dr. Ronald Li, a veterinarian at UC Davis, treated 23 cats rescued from the Tubbs fire in 2017. In addition to the expected traumatic injuries, something else caught Li’s attention. “We noticed clots forming within their hearts,” he said. “But at that time, we didn’t know why.”

State Park Burn Restrictions Advance Toward Passing


Senate Bill 1012, a law that will require California State Parks to restrict open fires, has been unanimously passed through the Committee of Water, Parks, and Wildlife. The bill instructs parks to work with the guidelines of local fire departments. The bill could appear before the full assembly in August.

California State Guard Seeks Volunteers for Firefighting Unit


The California State Guard needs volunteers to join its Team Blaze, a group focused on wildland firefighting. “This team specializes as a Type II fire line hand crew, ready to respond to any area of California when needed,” according to a release.

Bureau of Land Management Issues Seasonal Fire Restrictions


The Bureau of Land Management is issuing seasonal fire restrictions for lands managed by the Central Coast Field Office, which covers San Benito, Santa Cruz, Monterey and western Fresno counties. These restrictions are in addition to the year-round statewide fire prevention order.

Heat Wave This Week Will Intensify Fire Danger for Northern California


Red flag warning issued for Sacramento Valley; elevated fire conditions expected for Bay Area.

Cal Fire Adds New Helicopter on Central Coast


The Cal Fire Air Attack Base in Hollister now has an even greater defense going into this fire season: the S70i. Also known as the fire hawk, the chopper is the newest version of the Blackhawk and its capabilities are a turning point for fighting fires.

How High is the Risk This Year for Northern California Wildfires?


This year figures to be a bad one for California wildfires. The driest regions include parts of the North Bay area and the northern Sacramento Valley, each devastated by major fires since 2017.


A Pyrocumulus cloud generated by the Dixie Fire in July, 2021.
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