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The Ranch Fire: Cause Of

The 2018 Ranch fire was the largest wildfire in California history, scorching over 410,000 acres throughout Colusa, Glenn, Lake and Mendocino counties.

The Ranch fire was one of two fires, the other being the River fire, that made up the Mendocino Complex fire. Combined with the River fire, the Mendocino Complex fire burned over 459,000 acres.

The fire started on July 27, 2018 near Upper Lake in Lake County.

In June of this year, Calfire released the results of its investigation.

The report stated, "After a meticulous and thorough investigation, Calfire has determined that the Ranch fire was caused by a spark or hot metal fragment landing in a receptive fuel bed. The spark or hot metal fragment came from a hammer driving a metal stake into the ground. The tinder dry vegetation and red flag conditions consisting of strong winds, low humidity and hot temperatures caused an extreme rate of spread which caused the fire to grow rapidly."

At that time no further details were revealed such as who was responsible for driving the metal stake in the ground and what was the reason for doing so.

Investigators now say the Ranch fire started when a rancher came upon a nest of wasps buried underground last July. The rancher, Glenn Kyle, is allergic to wasp stings, so he took a metal stake and pounded it into the ground to try to seal the nest off. Unfortunately, a single spark flew up and ignited dry grass on his property.

And the rest as they say is now history.

The fire destroyed 280 structures and resulted in the death of one firefighter and three firefighter injuries. During 2018 more than 7,571 wildfires burned over 1.8 million acres of land in California.

New Vax Laws Eliminate Phony Exemptions

This past week, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two bills into law that provides the state with the authority to overrule phony medical exemptions for children’s vaccines.

Here’s the background.

Back in 2015, a new California law (SB 277) among other things, abolished the personal belief exemption that allowed parents to opt their child out of vaccines in our schools.

Prior to 2015, under California’s personal belief exemption, a parent could choose to opt their child out of school vaccine requirements. But the 2015 law removed that option and left only a medical exemption rendered by an MD that would allow parents to exclude their child from mandatory vaccinations.

However, also under the 2015 law, parents who decided not to vaccinate were required to home-school their children.

For the past 20 years, there has been a growing movement comprised of so-called “anti-vaxers” who refuse to have their children vaccinated based mostly on a now retracted 1998 study that falsified data to purport a link between autism and the measles vaccine. The study was authored by Andrew Wakefield who was later found to be lying. Also, numerous subsequent studies worldwide involving hundreds of thousands of children have proved that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism.

Here’s some of the thoughts of one of the leaders of the “Anti-Vaxer” movement in California. Dr. Don Harte is a Marin County chiropractor who is prominent in the anti-vaccination movement, which is a loosely organized conspiracy-theorist subculture that blames the medical practice of vaccination for a wide range of health problems and whose advocates have, ironically, been directly responsible for the return of health problems in the form of diseases that had long ago been rendered almost non-existent through the use of those very same vaccines. The movement, largely led by people with no medical or scientific qualifications, bases its claims largely on spurious alleged short- and long-term side-effects of vaccinations. These are people who believe there is a far-reaching conspiracy by the government, Big Pharma, and most doctors who “push” vaccines for children that cause “autism, Type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, life-threatening allergies, asthma, Guillain-Barre Syndrome and a variety of emotional/psychological disorders.” There is absolutely no empirical evidence to support any of their far-fetched claims.

Under the 2015 law, vaccination checks take place during mandated reporting periods: when a child enrolls in kindergarten, in seventh grade or when a child enrolls in a new school district. A long list of school boards, education groups, local governments, health organizations and parent and child advocacy groups supported the new vaccination law. The list included: the American Academy of Pediatrics, Vaccinate California, California State PTA, California Medical Association, California Immunization Coalition, and the Health Officers Association of California

Since implementation of the 2015 law, anti-vaxers have been circumventing required vaccinations by obtaining highly questionable exemptions from doctors. The pair of laws signed by Newsom, now eliminate that unethical medical practice of issuing medical exemptions for dubious reasons.

It should be pointed out that children with a compromised immune system, or who have had a previous severe allergic reaction to a vaccine, can get a medical exemption from the mandated vaccination. Also, exemptions would be valid for kids with organ transplants or who are receiving treatments for cancer.

Anti-vaxer parents can still evade the law by homeschooling their children just as they could under the 2015 law.

Here’s highlights of the new vaccination laws signed by Newsom:

• Starting Jan. 1, 2020, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) will have the power to revoke medical exemptions that it determines are not medically necessary.

• The department will review vaccine exemptions at schools where less than 95% of the kids enrolled are fully vaccinated.

• The department will review exemptions from doctors who write more than five exemptions in a year.

• Schools have to publish their students’ vaccination rates at least each year.

• Unvaccinated kids with approved medical exemptions can stay home from school if there’s a disease exposure at the school.

• Doctors or parents can appeal the revocation of a medical exemption to an independent review board of doctors appointed by the California Department of Health and Human Services.

• Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, kids entering seventh grade will need an updated medical exemption, even if they had one previously.

• The law is not retroactive; only medical exemptions granted after Jan. 1, 2020 will be subject to review.

• Doctors who have been placed on probation by the Medical Board of California over issuing invalid medical exemptions will not be allowed to grant any more exemptions.

So here’s where we are on this issue. For anyone who may have misgivings about the vaccination question, rest assured there’s no foundation or scientific basis to long-discredited conspiracies raised by vaccination opponents, so get your kids vaccinated.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:


  1. Lazarus September 19, 2019

    The cause of the fire according to this reeks of the highly improbable if not impossible…
    As always,

  2. Jim Armstrong September 19, 2019

    The fire started many miles from Upper Lake and actually took days to get there.
    I agree with Laz that pounding a metal stake into a yellow jacket nest is not smart for a person with possible life threatening allergies to stings.
    It was reported at the time that two investigators were on the scene almost immediately.

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