(UPDATES) Former Blue Heron Motel Office Building in Flames

Hank Sims / Monday, Aug. 21 @ 2:52 p.m. / Fire

UPDATE, 5:10 p.m.: The heavy equipment has shown up and the Blue Heron office is coming down.

Photos: Andrew Goff.

###

Photo: Andrew Goff.

UPDATE, 4:10 p.m.: Eureka police have detained one person near the scene of this afternoon’s fire at the former Blue Heron motel. It’s not yet clear whether or not this person is believed to be connected with the blaze.

Brian Gerving, the city of Eureka’s public works director, is at the scene, as is owner Floyd Squires. 

Deputy Chief Bill Reynolds of Humboldt Bay Fire tells the Outpost that they’re planning to have the fire-damaged building demolished this afternoon.

City of Eureka’s public works director Brian Gerving

Landlord Floyd Squires discusses matters with Humboldt Bay Fire personnel.

Brian Gerving speaks with the Times-Standard’s Hunter Cresswell while Squires looks on.

###

Inside the building that burned. Photo: Andrew Goff.

UPDATE, 4 p.m.: As stated below, the building that caught fire was full of detritus. Below: Humboldt Bay Fire Battalion Chief Sean Robertson peeks inside with the Outpost and speculates about the cause of the fire.

###

UPDATE, 3:20 p.m.: Humboldt Bay Fire Battalion Chief Sean Robertson tells the Outpost that it appears people were living inside the shuttered structure. Initial reports held that two people were seen fleeing from the scene of the fire, and a large amount of debris was found inside it.

Electricity had long since been cut to the building, Robertson said, so they are ruling out that as a potential cause of the fire.

No one was located inside the building.

###

UPDATE, 3:11 p.m.: Northbound traffic is backed way up now. Firefighters seem to have mostly controlled the blaze, but continue to work the scene.

The Blue Heron — owned by Eureka slumlords Floyd and Betty Squires — was condemned by the city of Eureka in Feb. 2015.

Photos: Andrew Goff.

###

The office building of Eureka’s Blue Heron Motel — shuttered some time ago for code violations — is on fire. Four Humboldt Bay Fire units are attacking the blaze. 

Both northbound lanes of Broadway are closed, but as of this writing traffic is still moving through the turn lane, with no noticeable slowdowns.

Eureka police are on scene. Smoke continues to billow out of the former office building, with flames showing occasionally. Part of the exterior of the building is charred.

We’ll update when we know more.


MORE →


Officer Describes Punching, Pepper-Spraying Half-Naked Woman Who Rammed Power Plant Gate; Suspect Held to Answer for Felony Vandalism

Rhonda Parker / Monday, Aug. 21 @ 1:12 p.m. / Courts

Zacevich.

A woman suspected of crashing her Cadillac SUV through a security gate, then attacking the officer trying to arrest her, was held to answer today on all charges.

Judge Dale Reinholtsen made the ruling this morning after listening to testimony from sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Allen, who said Katherine Virginia Zacevich came at him swinging, tried to grab his Taser, did grab his crotch, and was still fighting when “four or five” officers finally got her under control.

Allen testified that during the preceding struggle, he punched the half-naked woman in the jaw and pepper-sprayed her. Neither seemed to have much effect.

Allen was the first officer to arrive at the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. plant in King Salmon on the afternoon of Aug. 5. The Sheriff’s Department had received a report that a woman drove through the security gate at the plant.

Testifying under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Brent Kling and Deputy Conflict Counsel David Lee, Allen said he arrived to find the gate open and some PG&E employees standing inside.

Then he saw Zacevich, 24.

“She was walking toward me wearing only pants, followed by a small dog,” Allen recalled. “I exited my car and told her to come up and speak with me.”

Zacevich was sweating, her eyes were rolled back, and she was “mumbling incoherently,” Allen said. But she did manage to clearly say “Fuck you,” when he asked her a second time to come and talk to him.

“She walked past me and I attempted to grab her right arm,” the officer testified. “She took a step back and started swinging.”

Allen said he was hit in the chest. He stepped back, tripped and fell to one knee. Then he rose and hit Zacevich in the jaw with his closed fist. That knocked her off balance, he said, and he tackled her.

While they were tussling on the ground, Allen said, Zacevich “tried to grab my Taser, she tried to grab my crotch. Well, she did grab my crotch.” He said that was painful.

He rolled Zacevich onto her stomach, and eventually she went limp. But when he released his grip she came up fighting.

“I sprayed her in the face with (pepper spray),” Allen testified. “It had no effect and she ran into the shrubbery.”

Allen said outside court later that when he had Zacevich on the ground, her little dog “was on top of me licking my back.” He said the dog is now in the custody of animal control.

After Zacevich disappeared into the bushes, another sheriff’s officer arrived. On the ground they found her car keys, her discarded bra and shirt and a pocket knife. They searched a blue, late-model Cadillac SUV and found it was registered to Zacevich.

In a few minutes Zacevich was spotted swimming in the slough. After awhile she emerged fully naked, Allen said, but then “fell face-first in the slough” and continued swimming. Eventually several officers were able to subdue and arrest her. She remains in custody on $25,000 bail.

Allen said he believed Zacevich was either under the influence of drugs or having a mental breakdown. She has not been charged with any drug-related crime, and the only felony charge against her is causing vandalism of more than $400. Her three misdemeanor charges are battery on a peace officer, interfering with a peace officer and driving on a license suspended after a previous DUI.

Zacevich was arrested for DUI just a few weeks before the gate incident.

The one felony charge against Zacevich may not stand. PG&E estimated the damage at $2,500, but that included the salaries of people who had to stand guard 24 hours a day until the gate was repaired.

Defense attorney Lee pointed out there’s no information on the just the cost of repairing the vandalized gate. If the damage is under $400, the charge should be a misdemeanor. Judge Reinholtsen agreed, saying he’s frustrated over not knowing that figure. But he said the damage described could likely amount to $400, and he held Zacevich to answer for felony vandalism.

Allen testified the mechanical lever on the chain-link gate was broken off. The gate itself was also damaged and leaning to one side, but it was still standing.

A video of the gate-ramming incident shows the blue Cadillac speeding up to the gate. Allen, who watched the video, testified that the driver stopped, backed up and then drove through it.

According to the prosecutor at an earlier court hearing, Zacevich has an extensive criminal history in California and several other states. She allegedly admitted to law enforcement that she uses alcohol and marijuana daily.

She is scheduled for arraignment on Sept. 5. Her trial date could be set at that time.



AIR QUALITY ALERT: Officials Warn of ‘Very Unhealthy’ Air Quality Conditions Along the Klamath River as Wildfires Continue to Grow

Hank Sims / Monday, Aug. 21 @ 12:47 p.m. / Emergencies

Smoke from the Oak Fire, part of the 35,000-acre Eclipse Complex burning around Happy Camp. Photo: Inciweb.

From the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District:

For the following areas:

  • Very Unhealthy conditions for communities in the Klamath River Drainage - Orleans, Sawyers Bar, Weitchpec, Hoopa and Willow Creek.
  • Unhealthy conditions are forecast for Weaverville and surrounding areas.

Smoke levels in these areas are forecast to be in the Very Unhealthy range to Unhealthy throughout the day and evening, and are creating a health hazard. These conditions could be problematic for those with health conditions. Air quality will be diminished as offshore winds remain light and continue to push smoke from the wildfires into the Klamath River drainage.

A change to a South West wind direction is forecast to begin on Tuesday, and conditions should improve for areas south of the fires and along the coast. Updates will be provided as conditions change.
People are recommended to restrict outdoor activities when possible. Symptoms that may be related to excess smoke exposure include:

  • Repeated coughing
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Palpitations
  • Nausea or unusual fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, contact your health care provider.

Please see the NCUAQMD’s General Public Service Announcement for recommendations on limiting smoke exposure. For 24-hour Air Quality Advisory Information, call the NCUAQMD’s hotline toll-free at 1-866-BURN-DAY (1-866-287-6329), or visit the website at www.ncuaqmd.org. 



(PHOTOS, VIDEO) HOW’S YOUR ECLIPSE? Coastal Humboldt is Socked In, But People Are Flocking Inland to Get Views

Hank Sims / Monday, Aug. 21 @ 10:07 a.m. / Nature

NASA live stream of the eclipse.

We’re just about ready to reach peak eclipse. Here in Eureka, everything looks the same as it always does — thick, dense layer of fog blocking out all view of the sun — except for the fact that it looks like it’s about 6:30 in the morning rather than 10 a.m.

Inland, though — the fog has lifted, and crowds are swarming up for a glimpse! Check out the scene up at Kneeland School, where the Outpost’s Ryan Burns is stationed:

Kneeland School. Photo: Ryan Burns.

Kneeland School. Photo: Ryan Burns.

Now look at Berry Summit as of a few minutes ago, courtesy of the Outpost’s Andrew Goff!


They look like they’re having a good time!

We’ll update here in case anyone gets a good Humboldt picture of the sun. In the meanwhile — if you’re fog-bound, maybe follow the livestream above?

Happy eclipse day!

Former state senator Wes Chesbro (right) in funny glasses, at Berry Summit.

###

UPDATE:

Totality was acheived. Screenshot from the livestream above.



HARDIN: An Honest Value in Humboldt County

John Hardin / Monday, Aug. 21 @ 7:03 a.m. / Op-Ed

When I drank beer, the Eel River Brewing Company made my favorite. Their Organic IPA had everything I was looking for in a beer. It’s strong, satisfyingly hoppy and all organic. I love the fact that they make it right here in Humboldt County, but a big part of what I love about Eel River Organic IPA, is the price. I used to get Eel River Organic IPA at Eureka Natural Foods, or the Liquor Store in Redway for $28.88 a case. Just last week I saw that they still have it at ENF at that same price. That works out to about $1.20 per 12 oz bottle, which seems like a bargain to me.

I bought a lot Eel River Organic IPA over the years, amounting to thousands of individual beers, and I never got a bad one. Every single bottle tasted consistently crisp and refreshing. People take this for granted with beer, but unless you’ve paid good money for a badly skunked and undrinkable beer you probably don’t fully appreciate it. I thank the Whale Gulch Brewery for making me really appreciate the quality control at Eel River Brewery.

Of course, I could have drunk Budweiser for about half as much money, and found it available in even more convenient locations, or I could have chosen Hamms for even less, but I chose Eel River IPA because I don’t mind paying a bit more for real quality. I don’t have extravagant tastes. I never bought their Imperial IPA at something approaching $10 a bottle. After all, I’m not made of money, and beer isn’t everything, but I like a good one, and I appreciate it when someone can make a good one at a good price, so I don’t mind giving them this entirely unsolicited publicity.

Look at what goes into an Eel River Organic IPA. First you need organic barley. The field has to be certified organic. The farmer has to plant it, water it, fertilize it, protect it from pests, harvest it, hull it and cure it, and make money at it. From there, the barley has to be sprouted, and roasted at a very specific temperature for a very specific amount of time. In addition to barley, you need hops, an aromatic flower not unlike cannabis. The hops have to be grown in a certified organic field, watered, fertilized, protected from pests and picked at peak florescence. Hops also have to be cured and dried properly.

Besides the ag products, you need an abundant supply of clean water, and you need to deal with a lot of organic waste material properly. You need a specific strain of yeast. You need someplace to boil it all together, and you need the fuel to make the heat. You need a sterilized fermenter with an air-lock, big enough to hold it all, and you need to keep it within a narrow temperature range for a matter of weeks. Then you need to bottle it, with just a dash of sugar in each bottle for sparkle, cap it, and let it age for a few more weeks before you sell it to the distributor.

The distributor buys it, tacks on all of the taxes, then takes it to the store, and sells it to the store owner, at a profit. The store buys it, and marks it up again, before they sell it to me, at $28.88 a case. I’m happy, and everybody gets paid. Nobody makes too much, but everyone makes enough to keep doing it. That’s what makes Eel River Organic IPA a success. It’s quality, but it isn’t just quality. It’s quality, done efficiently. It’s honest value that makes Eel River Organic IPA such a great beer.

Now let’s compare this great local beer to our even more famous local product, marijuana. To make marijuana, you need to plant it, water it, fertilize it, harvest it, dry it and cure it. In the past, you also had to hide it. Time was, we had the best place in the country to hide marijuana, and there was so much of a premium on cannabis because of prohibition, that it was worth the expense of dragging everything else you needed to grow marijuana, including the topsoil, fertilizer and even the sunlight, in the form of generators and lights, out to the middle of the forest in Humboldt County to do it.

No one would dream of hauling soil up the side of a mountain to a hole in the forest to plant barley. If they did, that would be some expensive barley, and unless they could think of some kind of hype to convince people that the barley they grew was better than barley grown by competent farmers, working fertile soil, on flat land, in full sun, out in the open, they would soon go out of business. Unless they could lobby the legislature to create all kinds of strict licensing of barley. They could argue that since barley is used to produce beer, which is responsible for millions of deaths every year, of course we need to strictly limit where, and how much of it can be grown They could use their influence in government to create an artificial shortage of barley that would drive the price of beer through the roof, and allow them to sell their expensive barley at a profit.

Right now, the marijuana industry is conspiring with politicians to keep marijuana expensive and to stifle competition and prevent innovation. The cannabis industry has given more money to gubernatorial candidates than all other farmers in the state combined, and most of that money went to Gavin Newsom who has promised to keep the price of marijuana high, to protect drug dealer’s profits, while he screws cannabis consumers who are sick of high prices and communities all over the state who will have to deal with black market crime for the foreseeable future.

That’s not a bargain; that’s a ripoff. There’s no honest value anywhere in the marijuana industry. Instead, it’s full of hype, greed, and government coercion. If you happen to get good pot out of it, that is more or less beside the point. You didn’t really have much of a choice. You paid through the nose to people who feel entitled to your money, and you settled for whatever you got. We deserve a better deal.

A better deal means open competition that rewards innovation. A better deal means licensing large-scale cannabis grows on agricultural land to stop people from hauling soil up the side of a mountain to a hole in the forest by putting them out of business. A better deal means we have a choice of fine cannabis products, in every price range, that are safe, consistent and reliable. Until we have a better deal, we don’t even know what an honest bargain looks like in the marijuana industry.

Someday, if we ever get a better deal, some Humboldt cannabis entrepreneur may develop a profitable cannabis product that matches the honest value of Eel River Brewery’s Organic IPA, but I sure haven’t seen it yet.

###

John Hardin writes at Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do.



WILDFIRE UPDATE; Plus, Brush Fire on Eureka Waterfront Adds More Smoke Above Our Heads

Ryan Burns / Sunday, Aug. 20 @ 6:32 p.m. / Fire

A brush fire burns on waterfront property at the north end of Eureka Sunday evening. | Photos by Ryan Burns.

As wildfires continue to incinerate thousands of acres in the Six Rivers and Klamath National Forests, on Sunday evening Humboldt Bay Fire responded to a small brush fire on the Eureka waterfront.

Around 5:30 p.m. the incident commander on scene told the Outpost that the blaze, located at the foot of V Street, was about half-an-acre in size, moving at a moderate pace and did not threaten any structures. He predicted it would grow to about an acre before firefighters got it under control. 

Area business owners say the property is a regular camping spot for homeless.

We’ll update this post if more information comes in tonight.

Meanwhile, the Orleans complex, which expanded to include 19 separate fires over the weekend, had grown by Sunday afternoon to 7,663 acres. That size despite the fact that 13 of the 19 fires have been completely contained. The remaining six are being fought using a combination of containment and confinement strategies, according to a press release from Six Rivers National Forest.

A total of 729 fire personnel in 19 fire crews were battling the blazes on Sunday, utilizing eight helicopters, 19 dozers and eight water tenders.

The nearby Ruth Complex fires had grown to 4,666 acres by late Sunday, though it was 80 percent contained.

An air quality advisory remains in effect.

Another angle on the fire in Eureka.



Inmate Tased After Assaulting Correctional Officers, Two Nurses in Unexplained Attack

Hank Sims / Sunday, Aug. 20 @ 1:49 p.m. / Crime

From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office

On August 19, 2017 at about 8:35 p.m., 42 year old Taume DeMarco, an inmate in the Humboldt County Correctional Facility, assaulted a female Correctional Deputy and two female medical nurses during a routine medication pass. DeMarco was arrested and booked into the facility on August 9, 2017 by the Fortuna Police Department forcharges of PC245(a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon. At the time of the assault he was housed in a maximum security celled unit.

DeMarco was receiving medication in his housing unit when, for unknown reasons, he became aggressive and struck one of the nurses attending to him. The Correctional Deputy quickly came to the aid of the nurse and was able to separate her from DeMarco. When the Deputy attempted to use her radio to call for back-up, DeMarco assaulted her by striking her in the face, then wrapped his arms around her pinning her arms to her body so that she was unable to finish her call. The Deputy was able to break free from DeMarco’s hold and push him to the ground. The second nurse called for emergency back-up using her radio. DeMarco refused to follow orders to stay on the ground and instead got up and began to attack the second nurse by attempting to strike her in the face. The Deputy grabbed her department issued conducted electrical weapon (Taser) and deployed it striking DeMarco, while the nurses moved to safety. Additional Deputies arrived and placed DeMarco in handcuffs. He was escorted to a holding cell in the Processing area. DeMarco, the Deputy and both nurses received medical attention for injuries sustained during the assault.

Without the quick response from the Correctional Deputy, this situation may have resulted in a serious assault to facility medical staff.
DeMarco was arrested and charged with PC241.1 (felony assault on a custodial officer), PC243.1 (felony battery on a custodial officer), PC243(c) (1) (felony battery with injury on custodial officer), PC243(b) (misdemeanor battery on an EMT, Firefighter) and two counts of PC241(c) (misdemeanor assault on emergency personnel). His bail has been set at $25,000.

The case has been submitted to the Humboldt County District Attorney for prosecution.