By Mary-Justine Lanyon
The July 4th weekend was relatively quiet. That was the report from law enforcement representatives at the Lake Arrowhead Municipal Advisory Council meeting on July 7.
Lt. Craig Harris of the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station said they had just one arrest for being drunk in public.
There was, he said, “a great air show from the fire guys fighting a fire,” referring to the response to the fire at Monument Peak on July 4.
The sheriff’s patrol boat was out on Lake Arrowhead all weekend; they wrote eight warnings for boater safety issues.
Lt. Harris also noted they are working with the county board of supervisors to get funding to purchase a Sno-Cat for the Twin Peaks station. “We hope to have it in time for next winter,” he said.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jason Mahan reported they had engines participating in the Jamboree Days parade and then sent them to the fire at Monument Peak. “Fuel moistures are still in our favor,” he said. With aircraft, they were able to keep the fire in check.
“In another month or two,” the chief warned, “that fire would have run up the slope. Things are drying out with the heat waves we’re getting.” And, he added, “the grasses (which grew due to all the moisture from the winter storms) could make it intense at the end of the season.”
Cal Fire crews have been working with Team Rubicon behind the Lake Arrowhead Community Presbyterian Church, cleaning up 11 acres. And crews will be going to the Little Bear project, which was thinned last year. “We want to follow up with weed abatement,” Chief Mahan said.
In addition, engine companies will be out doing defensible space inspections. “We want to make sure you and your neighbors are doing your jobs. Give the fire crews and our law enforcement partners a chance to try to protect the communities.”
Trudie Blank asked the chief which is worse, dry weather or moisture which makes the vegetation grow. “The grass crop is chest high now,” the chief said, “which gives us flashy fuels. I would rather have them – I like those odds better. We can chase down grass fires and hit them hard. I would rather have flashy fires than big timber fires.
“But,” he added, “if people haven’t created defensible space, the fire might burn right up to their house.”
Joe Barna, the interim assistant chief of County Fire, also said they had a safe July 4th weekend, with all events going well. “Right now,” he said, “fires are staying small but, the longer we go, the more dangerous it gets.” He urged property owners to review “Ready, Set, Go” on the County Fire website – “It prepares homeowners for the inevitable,” he said.
During the July 4th MEP (maximum enforcement period), Ubaldo Gonzalez, the CHP public information officer, said, they issued 106 citations for a variety of infractions. There were 14 misdemeanor arrests and 14 traffic collisions from Silverwood to Forest Falls.
Gonzalez introduced one of two new sergeants to the area – David Wellman, who had previously worked on the mountain for eight years. He has served 17 years on patrol, three as a sergeant. “I’m happy to be back up here,” Sgt. Wellman told the MAC.
Jim Grant, chair of the Lake Arrowhead MAC, read a report submitted by Caltrans. They will be bringing in striping crews from other districts for the striping operation which will take place from July 17 to 29. Pothole repairs are continuing. “Maintenance is aware of the damage and repairs that need to be made,” Grant read.
Motorists will have noticed that the one-way traffic on Highway 173 by the hospital has been switched to the other lane; work on the marina side will continue to evolve. The estimated completion is this winter “dependent on material and weather.” Grant quipped it didn’t say winter of which year.
There will be no further traffic switches on Highway 18 as the culvert repair project continues but there will be lane closures, with one lane in each direction at times. That project is ahead of schedule and should be completed by the fall of 2024. The culvert repair on Highway 330 is progressing; that is a flagging operation and should be complete by the end of summer.
Scott Rindenow, who is chairing the ad hoc committee on Highway 173, said he has scheduled a meeting with Caltrans in early August to discuss how the closed portion of the road can be repaired and reopened. In a letter sent to Senator Rocilicie Ochoa Bogh, Rindenow wrote that the reopening of the road is a “must have, not a want.”