Strike update: Montana, Clark may play soon Page 8 Missing 'gator found in owner's backyard Back page WEATHER MENDOCINO COUNTY — Coastal fog tonight and fair inland. Lows 40 to 55. Light winds. Coastal fog Thursday with partial afternoon clearing, sunny inland. Highs from the upper 50s and 60s near the ocean to the mid 90s warmest inland valleys. Temperatures H L Yesterday 93 52 Last year 78 46 Rainfall overnight rainfall 0.00 Year to date 00.00 Last year 2.20 Ukiah Daily Wednesday, September 30,1987 © 1987 ' oonrev, inc. 'Journal Vol. 127 No. 140 16 pages Serving Mendocino County, Calif. 25 Cents Pot growers may have started fire By RANDY FOSTER Journal Staff Writer POTTER VALLEY — Marijuana growers may have sparked the fire north of Potter Valley that claimed the life of a firefighter and severely injured four others Tuesday. Investigators arc at the scene and have reached no official conclusions, but early indications point to marijuana growers as the cause. The fire began early Tuesday morning, an unusual time for wild- land fires to start naturally because of the cool temperatures and moist air. Growing marijuana plants and irrigation lines were also reportedly found in the area. The Lake County Coroner and Sheriffs offices are conducting portions of the investigation. A state team has also been sent in to investigate Tuesday's death. Firefighter Dennis Cullins, 31, of Arcata, was killed Tuesday when his team was overcome by superheated gasses. The specific cause of Cullins' death will be determined during an autopsy scheduled for today, according to Capt. Glenn Perkins, of the Lake County Sheriffs Department. In a break with standard procedure, the Sheriffs Office grained a request from CDF to allow firefighters to contact Cullins family, rather than a representative of the coroners office, Perkins said. Injured during the incident were Firefighter Thomas Brown, 31, of Covelo, Fire Capt. Doug McDoncll, 31, of Eureka, Firefighter Robert Murias, 27, of Eureka, and Jeff Smith, 28, of Weott. The five made up Helitac Team 102 from Humboldt County. Together with Helitac 101 from Mendocino County, the two teams were among the first to arrive at the fire, about three miles north of the Trout Creek campground. Ironically, Brown, who normally wprks put of Howard Forestry Station with Helitac 101, was loaned Euesday to Helitac 102. The two helitac teams were working on the northern edge of the fire, roughly in the blaze's main path. Details are sketchy and reports vary, but the Helitac 102 team apparently was working on a spot fire when winds shifted and the main fire raced toward them. The area had been burned several years before, and was thick with fallen trees and 10-foot-high brush. The five-man team, with its mother helicopter hovering above, made its way into a burned area away from the fire's forward wall and tried to deploy portable fire shelters. But superheated winds gusted across the area, and the crew apparently had difficulty securing the tent-like shelters. Cullins couldn't seal his shelter in time and suffered through the brunt of the incendiary winds. He was apparently dead when first help arrived two hours later. The remaining four cinched down the shelters and survived, although all suffered second and third degree bums on their heads, arms, hands and legs. Two, Brown and McDonnell, suffered burned lungs. Meanwhile, helicopters and aerial tankers rushed to support the ill- fated ground crew, dumping water on the position and lining the area with retardant. The pilot of CDF helicopter 102, the mothership of the troubled heli- tac team, is credited by many for saving the lives of the survivors. His name has not yet been released. The fire continued to rage and combined with steep terrain to prevent rescuers from entering the scene for several hours. Coast Guard helicopters were called in from Humboldt County and San Francisco. Equipped with 100-foot rescue cables, the Coast Guard helicopters were the only aircraft that could extend their cables down to the scene. An inmate crew and bulldozer, . only 100 yards away from Helitac | 102, tried unsuccessfully to help. After rescuers finally got to the scene, the survivors were rushed to a helicopter base set up at Louisiana-Pacific's Potter Valley mill and were transferred to CDF and private helicopters. From there they were taken to Chico's burn center. All four are listed in serious but stable condition. Brown and McDoncll, both with lung injuries, are expected to remain in the burn center for four weeks or longer. Smith and Murias may be released in a week. Cullins' body was taken to the Lake County coroner. The fire, dubbed the Lauder fire, continued to rage this morning. It has burned more than 220 acres and is expected to reach 400 acres before containment. Hot, dry weather with a gentle northeasterly wind is expected to hamper the firefighting effort. Bulldozers are building a line around the fire, which is burning on steep ridges between Lake Pillsbury and the Van Arsdale reservoir. CDF has deployed 221 people to fight the fire. A fire camp has been set up at the Trout Creek campground. There is no estimate of containment. Two dozen or so mountain cabins are threatened by the fire, as well as prime timberland. An aerial battle is being waged by 11 helicopters and nine air tankers. Firefighters were stunned by the deaths. Mendocino County Mental Health and Red Cross counselors talked with firefighters Tuesday afternoon to help them deal with their grief. This morning CDF Region 1 Chief Bill Imboden reminded firefighters to fight "aggressivley but provide for safety first." "One acre or 10,000 acres is not worth losing your life for," he said. Evin Johnson Uklah Fire Captain Roe Sandelin demonstrates the use of an emergency fire shelter. The shelters are distributed to all firefighters in the wildlands. Shelters vital but not perfect By PETER PAGE Journal Staff Writer Personal fire shelters can save trapped firefighters, but the shiny aluminum tents are not perfect protection from flames and heat. Ukiah Fire Captain Roe Sandelin is trained in the use of the one-man shelters used by the firefighters that were trapped by flames Tuesday near Lake Pillsbury. He knows of numerous incidents last month dur; ing the Ham Fire, in Stanislaus National Forest, where trapped firefighters survived in the shelters. The shelters look like aluminum pup tents just large enough for one person. They are designed to give a. critical margin of safety from heat and smoke, but the circumstances of a wildland fire can overwhelm the tent's protective capabilities, Sandelin said. "They reflect heat when the fire is near, but not when right next to you," he said. For the shelters to be most effective, firefighters have to be in the clearest area they can find. Ideally, they would have enough time to clear the vegetation down to bare soil before laying down inside the tents, Sandelin said. "You are trapping air inside and providing a protective tent while the fire burns past," he said. The shelters have been-standard issue to firefighters in the wildlands for about the past five years, Sandelin added. Dukakis staff sunk Biden BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Michael S. Dukakis announced today that his campaign manager was the source of an "attack video" that helped undermine the presidential campaign of Sen. Joseph Biden. The campaign official, John Sasso, offered to resign over the incident, but Dukakis said he refused to fire his top political operative. Sasso, 40, earlier served as campaign manager for former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro when she was the 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee. On Monday, Dukakis denied a published report that his campaign was involved. CPF Helicopter 102, mothershlp of the ill-fated crew overcome by superheated gasses Tuesday, sits parked at L-P's Potter Valley mill as an air ambulance, rear, takes off. Payne given bonus ByPETERPAGE Journ»ISUIIWrller The Ukiah City Council sang the praises of City Manager D. Kent Payne, then gave him a more substantial token of appreciation Tuesday night. Payne was awarded $5,000 "merit compensation" by the council for saving and earning Uie city huge sums in three sets of negotiations over the past year. "It was the general feeling (of the City Council) that he merited this bonus," said Mayo Colleen Henderson. The council had to take special action to award Payne a bonus under a program for management employees that does not normally include the city manager. Payne successfully led renegotiations of the bonded debt of the Northern California Power Agency, of which Ukiah is a member, that saved $3 million in annual interest payments. Ukiah is responsible for 5 percent of the debt, so the city was saved $150,000 yearly, Henderson said. Payne also renegotiated the city's bonded indebtedness on the Lake Mendocino Hydroelectric Project. City courting 89-acre site Annexation issues sifted ByPETERPAGE JournilSUIIWrlter A committee of property owners and Ukiah city staff will examine how to pay for costly capital improvements being recommended if 89 nearly-vacant acres north of the city is to be annexed and developed. The land, located on the north side of Orr Creek between Stale Street and the freeway, is zoned by the county for industrial uses but needs city water and sewer service to fully develop. A major stumbling block, at least to the property owners, is a city staff report recommending the landowners bear the cost of building a $500,000 bridge over Orr Creek to allow Orchard Avenue to be extended northward to intersect, with Ford Road. City Planning Director Mike Harris, in a report to the City Council Tuesday night, also suggested the properly owners make a "financial commitment" to construclion of a freeway offramp, pay for upgrading Brush Street east of the Northwesiern Pacific Railroad tracks, pay for extending Orchard Avenue, and pay for insialling traffic signals ai the newly created interseclion of Orchard and Brush. Addilionally, the property owners woi'ld be required to pay for sewer, .vaier, and electrical hookups, install curbs, gutters, and sidewalks, pay school impact and park fees, and put all utilities underground. Jared Carter, attorney for the Bricarelli family, owners of about 20 acres, said the proposed development requirements are beyond what the city can legally require. The staff report alone is hindering family efforts to sell its property, he said. Jack Cox, another property owner in the area, argued that it is unfair for only the four property owners to pay for the extension of Orchard Avenue, because the project would be a major traffic circulation improvement for the entire city. Mayor Colleen Henderson accepted an offer from Tom Thomas to chair a committee of property owners and city staff to outline development requirements. "The city is courting an 89 acre annexation," she said. Council approves sewer grant application The Ukiah City Council approved the application for a $715,000 federal grant to extend a sewer line lo the Carousel Industrial Park. The complex funding package for the estimated $1.3 million project involves a grant from the federal Economic Development Commission, a federal Community Development Block Gram, a contribution from Carousel Carpets for pretreaiment of industrial waste, and a small sum from the city and the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District. The sewer line grant was pronipted by Carousel Carpel's desire to construct a dyeing facility at its mill. Liquid wastes from the dyes cannot be disposed of in the mill's septic system. The carpel firm believes the dyeing facility is essential to quality control and speed-filling of orders. The dyeing facility would boost employment at the mill by 46 jobs, according to grant documents. The sewer extension would bring 40 business onto the sewer line and possibly open the way for further industrial development north of the city limits. The grant application also needs approval from the directors of the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District.
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