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UPDATED: El Cerrito hillside grass fire quickly contained — vegetation maintenance made a difference, official says

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Neighbors look on as crews from the El Cerrito and Richmond fire departments knock down a small grass fire that broke out behind houses on Seaview Place in El Cerrito. Photo by Steve Crawford.

The El Cerrito and Richmond fire departments quickly extinguished a grass fire at 7:40 p.m. today on the hillside to the rear of houses on Sea View Place at Moeser Lane.
Steve Crawford, who took this photo, said it “only burned a patch about 100-150 feet across.”

A resident of the area tweeted, “Five minutes after the #MoeserFire is out, I hear more illegal fireworks going off. Really? Let’s protect our dry hills, folks!”

Here is the report on the fire from El Cerrito Battalion Chief Michael Pigoni:

Tonight at approximately 7:40 pm, E71, E64, E66, E65, T64, B71 and B64 (E72 was committed to a medical) were dispatched to a vegetation fire behind the houses in the 7400 block of Seaview Place off Navellier. A full structure response was sent based on the reports the fire was near the houses.

B71 arrived on scene first and could view the fire to the north of Seaview Place on the PG&E right-away. The extent of the fire was not totally visible from Navellier Street, but it appeared to be burning slow and not threatening the homes. B71 established Seaview Place IC and assigned E71 to Seaview Place to find access through the houses and establish a line on the upper portion of the fire and evaluate conditions. Initially E64 was assigned to make access through the gate to the PG&E right-away and stretch a hose lay up to the bottom of the fire. E65 actually arrived at the gate first, cut the lock and made access up the dirt road to the head of the fire that was slowly backing down the hill. They initiated fire attack with a pre-connected 1-1/2” hose line. E71 was able to made access with another 1-1/2” hose line from Seaview Place. E66 was assigned to assisted E71 and E64 was assigned to assist E65. T64 was cancelled on scene.

Captain 71 reported the fire was contained and that they could handle with E65. E66 gave E71 their water and then both E66 and E64 returned to service. The fire was contained to approximately a 50’ x 100’ area under the high voltage lines in mowed grass. FPO 7130 was in the area and was requested to start investigating the origin of the area. He spoke with the residents and the person that tried to extinguish the fire and then searched the area thoroughly but was unable to locate any source of the fire. He will return in the morning to look again in the daylight.

The cool evening and mowed grass contributed to the slow fire spread.

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UPDATED El Cerrito: Air evacuation of injured bicyclist by CalStar helicopter from Cerrito Vista Park

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A 25-year-old man riding a bicycle on the Ohlone Greenway received “moderate” injuries just after 6 p.m. this evening when he crossed Lincoln Street and was struck by a pickup truck that was unable to stop in time, an El Cerrito Fire Department official said.
The bicyclist was treated by fire Battalion 71 and then taken to Cerrito Vista Park, where the CalStar helicopter was summoned and flew him to John Muir Medical Center, said Battalion Chief Larry Carr.
The cyclist was not wearing a helmet, he said. The driver remained at the scene.
Carr said the injuries were such that treatment at a trauma center was justified, and that the lack of a hospital in West Contra Costa after the closure of Doctors Medical Center was not a factor in the decision.

Photos are by El Cerrito resident Steve Crawford.

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El Cerrito police seek owner of springer spaniel

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The El Cerrito Police Department issued the following announcement Tuesday about a dog that was dropped off at the station:

An Older Springer Spaniel female was turned into the El Cerrito Police Department this afternoon. The dog was turned over to Contra Costa Animal Services and taken to the animal shelter in Pinole. Please contact Animal Services in Pinole at 510-374-3966 for more information.

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Crash closes El Cerrito CVS store

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El Cerrito police and fire crews were called to the CVS store at the Moeser Lane shopping center this afternoon when a BMW X5 SUV went over the curb into outside racks of plants for sale and through the store’s plate glass window about 1 p.m.
A store employee said there weren’t any injuries from the crash, “except maybe mentally.”
Another employee who was working at the checkout stand said she first thought it was an earthquake.
The crash forced the store to close for business this afternoon.
Accidents of this type are not uncommon at the store. Employees said there have been at least seven crashes of this type over the years.

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Watch your step: Rattlesnake safely removed from Hercules yard

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Fire Capt. Chuck Coleman examines the rattlesnake found in a yard this week.
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Firefighters from the Rodeo-Hercules Fire District handled an unusual early evening call June 11 when a resident reported discovering a rattlesnake in a yard on Dorada Court, in easternmost Hercules.
The 3-foot poisonous snake was rounded up and safely removed by a district crew.

From our files:

HOW TO AVOID A RATTLESNAKE BITE

There are several ways people can avoid or reduce the likelihood of startling and being bitten by a rattlesnake.

Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. Wear hiking boots.
When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step ON logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.
Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.
Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.
Do not handle a freshly killed snake, it can still inject venom.
Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone. Children are naturally curious and will pick up snakes.
Source: Belmont Police Department

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Pinole: Pair survive with moderate injuries after vehicle overturns several times

The Rodeo Hercules Fire Protection District issued the following news release about the accident tonight on Pinole Valley Road at Interstate 80:

DATE: May 26, 2014
TIME OF ALARM: 19:58
TYPE OF INCIDENT: Vehicle Accident
LOCATION: Pinole Valley Road and I80
RESPONSE: 2 Engines, 1 Rescue, 1 Battalion Chiefs
ASSISTING AGENCIES: Pinole Fire Department, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, Rodeo-Hercules Fire District, Pinole Police Department, American Medical Response West, California Highway Patrol.

TOTAL FIRE PERSONNEL AT SCENE: 8

INFORMATION:

Control Time: 21:39

Cause: Unknown

GENERAL STORY: All Concerned-

At 19:58, Pinole Fire Department and the Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District, responded to the report of a vehicle that had left the roadway at I-80 and Pinole Valley Road. The vehicle had left the freeway approximately 300 feet from where it landed, turning over several times, before coming to rest in the center divider of the intersection of I-80 and Pinole Valley Road. When crews arrived on scene they found the vehicle on its roof with two occupants inside the vehicle. Two Medical Helicopters were dispatched to Doctors Hospital in Pinole. After the occupants were extricated from the vehicle they were found to have moderate injuries and were transported to the Hospital by AMRW units. Two Engine Companies, One Rescue Company, and One Command Vehicle responded staffed by 7 Firefighters and 1 Battalion Chiefs.

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Fire units from El Cerrito and other East Bay cities assisting battle with wildfires in Southern California

El Cerrito issued the following news release about firefighters sent to help battle the wildfires in San Diego:

El Cerrito Firefighters Deployed to Assist with Southern California Wildfires
El Cerrito, CA: Two units from El Cerrito have been deployed to assist with wildfires in Southern California.
At 10:30 PM on Thursday night, El Cerrito Fire Engine 372, along with units from Crockett, San Ramon, Moraga, and Alameda County were dispatched to the Las Pulgas Fire located at Camp Pendleton CA. This is near the City of San Diego. The Las Pulgas fire first reported at 3:15 p.m. Thursday and at 5:00 a.m. Friday morning was reported to have grown to 8,000 acres burned and 5% contained.
Additionally, at 1:00 a.m. Friday, May 16, OES 300 out of El Cerrito was called to the San Diego Complex involving nine major wildfires burning in that area. OES 300 is part of Strike Team 2802A and is made up of units from San Francisco, Marin County (3 units) and El Cerrito.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) provides updated information on the size and containment of these and other major fire incidents online at http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_current
Already this year, CAL FIRE has already responded to nearly 1,300 wildfires, more than twice as many fires as average. All homeowners in California are encouraged to be prepared for wildfires. For more information on preparing for wildfires and creating a 100’ Defensible Space around your home are online at www.ReadyForWldfire.org.
CAL FIRE is an emergency response and resource protection department of the State of California.

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Smartphone thefts prompt warning from Berkeley police about distracted walking

Berkeley police have issued the following advisory this week in the wake of ongoing street robberies of smartphones:

Berkeley Police Reminder: Avoid Distracted Walking

If you’re reading this message on your smartphone while walking alone, put your phone away and look around.

Smartphone robberies from lone pedestrians at night account for the largest number of robberies in Berkeley. Some simple steps can reduce your chances of being a victim.

Don’t use your smartphone while outside. Walk with others when possible. Be aware of your surroundings.

Of the 309 pedestrian robberies last year, 63 percent occurred with people who were walking alone and 58 percent had their smartphone in their hand.

Some victims had phones forcibly taken from them. Others were convinced by seemingly friendly strangers to take their phone out of their pockets or let a stranger borrow it.

Be aware of locations and situations that could make you more vulnerable to crime – such as alleys, doorways, parking lots and stairwells.

Berkeley is not unique. Smartphone robberies have become a problem throughout the country due to their high value and easy sale on black markets. They are sold for hundreds of dollars and often shipped abroad.

Using your phone’s security features can also be a deterrent. For example, people using Apple products with the latest operating system, iOS7, can permanently disable a stolen phone using the Activation Lock feature.

Please report suspicious activities by calling the Berkeley Police Department at 510-981-5900. If it is a life threatening emergency or a crime in progress dial 911.