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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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Caltrans work at MacArthur Maze will mean overnight traffic detours

Caltrans issued the following announcement today about its planned overnight work at the MacArthur Maze that starts June 5 and is expected to last through June 30:

Caltrans Plans Concrete Removal and Bridge Deck Overlay at Maze Structure

ALAMEDA COUNTY–The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is performing night time full closures of either or both westbound Interstate 80 to eastbound Interstate 580 and westbound Interstate 580 to eastbound Interstate 80 connectors to remove concrete and overlay bridge deck. Construction is expected to be ongoing until September 2014.

To ensure worker and public safety, the MacArthur on and off ramps will be also rehabilitated and closed during construction.

Full Closures of 580 West – 80 East Connector and 580 West MacArthur On-ramp
June 5 through June 30, 2014
Monday night until Friday morning 11:00 P.M – 5:00 A.M.
Saturday night and Sunday morning 12:01 A.M. – 7:00 A.M.

Full Closures of 80 West – 580 East Connector and 580 East MacArthur off-ramp
June 5 through June 30, 2014
No full closures will take place until June 23rd

Motorists are advised to use the following detour during the work. Detour Signs will also be posted. All work is weather permitting.

Detour for Interstate 580 West to Interstate 80 East traffic:
Motorists will continue on Interstate 80 west towards San Francisco, take “PARKING LOT EXIT ONLY” exit on the left to the Toll Plaza parking lot, and merge to Interstate 80 east.

Detour for Interstate 580 West MacArthur on-ramp traffic:
Motorists will turn right on San Pablo Ave (alternatively turn right on Hollis St), turn left on Powell St and merge to the 80E.

Detour for Interstate 80 West traffic:
Motorists will continue to Interstate 880 South, exit at the West Grand Ave off-ramp, turn right on West Grand Ave and merge to the 580 east Maritime/West Grand on-ramp.

Detour for Interstate 580 East MacArthur off-ramp traffic:
Motorists will take the next exit to Webster St.

Motorists should expect delays and allow for extra travel time.

For real-time traffic, click-on Caltrans Quick Maps at: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/
Or follow Caltrans on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/CaltransD4
Caltrans appreciates your patience as we work to maintain our highways.

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Work on I-580 in Richmond means resumption of lane closures tonight, says Caltrans

Caltrans issued the following announcement this afternoon:

Interstate 580 Scofield Avenue and Western Drive
Bridge Decks Replacement Project
Lane Closures Continue

Contra Costa County – Lane closures resume tonight for the Interstate 580 construction project just east of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The project is expected to be finished by mid-June. The contractor is currently completing final items and will have periodic night time closures. Lane closures will be as needed.

· In general, until mid-June, Caltrans will close one westbound lane Monday night through Friday night, from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

· In general, until mid-June, Caltrans will close one eastbound lane Monday night through Friday night, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

· Note: one eastbound lane at the Richmond-San Rafael bridge will be closed, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 p.m. to 4 a.m., to move scaffolding. This work will continue until mid-June.

· During these closures, motorists should expect travel delay and allow additional time to reach their destination.

This is an active construction site and the 45 MPH speed zone will be enforced by the California Highway Patrol. Drive cautiously through the construction zone and leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you and “Slow for the Cone Zone.”

For more information about the project, visit the Caltrans webpage at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/580scofieldave/

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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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As Memorial Day approaches, a look back at El Cerrito honoring military personnel 70 years earlier

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In the photo above from the Richmond Independent from June 1944 (click it to enlarge), the Louis Hagen post of the American Legion in El Cerrito dedicates a plaque in front of the veterans building on Stockton Avenue honoring those from the city on active duty in the armed forces during World War II. Members of the post at that point were veterans of World War I, where El Cerritan Hagen had died in combat.

The annual placing of flags for Memorial Day on the graves of military veterans buried at Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito will take place on May 24 and volunteers who want to help are welcome to take part.
There will also be a first-ever Memorial Day observance on May 26 at a veterans assistance office in Richmond.
You can find more details here.

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Richmond: More ramp and lane closures next week for I-580 project

Caltrans this afternoon announced more ramp and lane closures scheduled for its Interstate 580 work near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

Interstate 580 Scofield Avenue and Western Drive Bridge Decks Replacement Project Lane and Ramp Closures Continue

Contra Costa County – Lane and ramp closures resume for the Interstate 580 construction project just east of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

· Tuesday, May 20, through Thursday, May 22, Caltrans will close one westbound lane from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for sign installation.

· Wednesday night, May 21, one eastbound lane will be closed for striping from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

· The eastbound I-580 on-ramp from Stenmark (formerly Western) Drive will be closed for striping on Wednesday, May 21, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Detour: travel east on I-580 across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, exit at San Quentin, and return to eastbound I-580.

· On Thursday, May 22, one westbound lane will be closed from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and one eastbound lane will be closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

· Note: one eastbound lane on the Richmond-San Rafael will be closed, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 p.m. to 4 a.m., to move scaffolding. This work will continue until mid-June. No closures are scheduled for Friday night, May 23 and Monday night, May 26.

· During these closures, motorists should expect travel delay and allow additional time to reach their destination.

This is an active construction site and the 45 MPH speed zone will be enforced by the California Highway Patrol. Drive cautiously through the construction zone and leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you and “Slow for the Cone Zone.”

For more information about the project, visit the Caltrans webpage at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/580scofieldave/

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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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Richmond: Eastbound I-580 lane closures at Richmond-San Rafael Bridge announced

Caltrans issued the following release today about lane closures for its ongoing work on Interstate 580 at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge:

Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Eastbound Lane Closures Begin Monday Night, 8:30 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Contra Costa County – Caltrans has scheduled lane closures on eastbound Interstate 580 at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The closures are necessary so that the paint crew can move scaffolding to a new location.

· One lane will be closed Monday night – Friday night, from 8:30 p.m. to 4 a.m.

· This work will continue through mid-June.

· No closures are scheduled for Friday night, May 23 and Monday night, May 26.

Motorists should expect travel delay and allow more time to reach their destination. Drive cautiously through the construction zone. Leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you and “Slow for the Cone Zone.”

For more information about Caltrans projects, visit the webpage at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/

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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.