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California wildfires reduces years-long dreams to embers

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  • SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Jose Garnica worked for more than two decades to build up his dream home that was reduced to ashes in a matter of minutes by the deadly firestorm striking Northern California.

    Garnica, who moved to the U.S. from Mexico over 20 years ago, had finally decided he could afford to upgrade parts of his Santa Rosa house after building a stable career with the local garbage company and saving nearly everything he and his wife earned.

    Over the past two years, he replaced the siding and installed a new air conditioner, stainless steel appliances and new flooring. He bought a new 60-inch (1.5-meter) television. On Saturday, the 44-year-old got an estimate to replace the fence, one of the last items on his list.

    But at 3:30 a.m. Monday, he watched his house become one of the more than 2,000 homes and businesses destroyed by the series of blazes across the region that had killed at least 17 people.

    “You feel helpless,” he said Tuesday. “There’s nothing you can do. Everything, your whole life, goes through your mind in a minute. Everything you had done. I left all my family behind in Mexico to get a better life. Finally we were just coming to the comfort level, and this happens.”

    Garnica tried to save the home with a garden hose. He and a neighbour tried to cut open the neighbour’s above-ground pool, hoping the water would protect their homes. In 15 minutes, the entire neighbourhood caught fire, he said.

    “If I knew this was going to happen, maybe those 45 minutes I spent trying to put the fire down, I should’ve just grabbed all the belongings,” Garnica said. “But I didn’t think it was going to happen.”

    Those destructive flames raced across the wine country of Napa and Sonoma counties and the coastal beauty of Mendocino further north, leaving little more than smouldering ashes and eye-stinging smoke in their wake. Whole neighbourhoods are gone, with only brick chimneys and charred laundry machines to mark sites that were once family homes.

    “This is just pure devastation, and it’s going to take us a while to get out and comb through all of this,” said Ken Pimlott, chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. He said the state had “several days of fire weather conditions to come.”

    In some torched neighbourhoods, fire hydrants still had hoses attached, apparently abandoned by firefighters who had to flee.

    The wildfires already rank among the deadliest in California history, and officials expected the death toll to increase as the scope of destruction becomes clear. At least 185 people were injured during the blazes that cropped up Sunday night. Nearly 200 people were reported missing in Sonoma County alone.

    David Leal, 55, and his wife and stepson salvaged a few decorative items from their Santa Rosa home, including a wind chime, tiles from the backsplash in the kitchen, a decorative sun and a cross.

    “Our plan is to keep those things, and when we rebuild, they’ll be mementos of what we’ve lived through, and of, just, resilience,” Leal said. “It’s hard not to get emotional.

    In the meantime, Leal got a post office box so the family can get mail, a new laptop and some clothes. They’re living out of their two vehicles for now.

    “We’ll be back home again sooner than later, and with our chins held high,” he said, choking back tears. “And hopefully we’ll be amongst our neighbours and friends as they do the same.”

    Leal, a U.S. Navy veteran, evacuated with his family, two dogs and cat to nearby Petaluma late Sunday after seeing fierce, hot winds and flames whipping in the distance.

    “We didn’t have time to think about what to grab. We grabbed what we saw,” he said. He got his external hard drive, which was lying out, but left his laptop.

    Garnica also hung onto hope, saying he was not back at square one.

    “I came into the States with nothing. I didn’t have anything,” Garnica said. “I think I’m better off than how I came in. At least I got a job. I got a family. I’m healthy.”

    ___

    Knickmeyer reported from Sonoma, California. Associated Press writers Jocelyn Gecker, Olga R. Rodriguez, Sudhin Thanawala, Juliet Williams and Andrew Dalton in San Francisco and Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento contributed to this report.

    ___

    Follow the AP’s complete wildfire coverage here: https://apnews.com/tag/Wildfires.

    Jonathan J. Cooper And Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press





















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    Community

    Central AB Child Advocacy Centre one step closer to reality

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  • Red Deer, Alberta, June 15, 2018: The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre is thrilled to announce that the next phase in planning for its new Centre of Excellence on Red Deer College’s main campus is now underway.

    On Thursday, June 14, RDC’s Board of Governors approved a resolution to move forward to request Government of Alberta approval through an Order in Council to lease a portion of land on the RDC campus to the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre. This request builds on the memorandum of understanding that CACAC and RDC entered into earlier this year, and it represents the partners’ commitment to work together to explore options that will meet the needs of Central Albertans.

    Mark Jones, Chief Executive Officer of the CACAC, together with the centre’s staff and service partners, couldn’t be more pleased with this announcement. “Supporters of the centre have worked tirelessly since the formation of the coalition group who were determined to help with the desperate need for child advocacy in Central Alberta. We are collectively changing the way Central Alberta responds to child abuse. We opened in our temporary facility November 2017, and the statistics have been staggering of how many cases have been processed. The need for our planned Centre of Excellence is proven, and we are going to be working hard to raise the funds to bring it to fruition. These children need us, the community needs us, and the future of our society depends on it.”

    The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre is a not for profit organization, governed by a board of directors that works in an integrative partnership with the Central Region Child and Family Services, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Justice, Alberta Education, the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, and the RCMP to better service children, youth and families impacted by sexual abuse and the most serious/complex cases of physical abuse and neglect.

    The centre has professionals onsite dealing with the criminal, child protection, medical and psychological needs of child victims and their families. Onsite professionals include police officers, physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and crown prosecutors with the common goals of: improved timeliness in the coordinated assessment and investigation of child abuse cases; increased access to support and therapeutic resources for the child and their family; enhanced collaboration among partners; more efficient and effective use of resources; increased knowledge and awareness of child abuse in the community.

    Working collaboratively, we achieve greater results than any partner could on their own. It blends investigation, treatment, prevention, education and research with expertise to provide an integrated practice approach: wrapping around children and always “working in the best interests of the child”.

    Learn more about the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre by clicking this link.

     


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    Crime

    Banff RCMP members assaulted responding to disturbance

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  • Banff Detachment RCMP members suffer assaults while responding to disturbance

    Banff, Alberta – On June 8, three RCMP officers suffered injuries while trying to effect the arrest of a 34-year-old Banff resident.  The officers are recovering and the male is facing charges.

    At 5:38 p.m., the RCMP responded to a call for assistance at an apartment residence where a male was believed to be very intoxicated, combative and residents were requesting his removal.  While trying to effect the arrest of this male, he assaulted the three responding members.  The male jumped off a balcony, fled a short distance and was apprehended promptly after two more RCMP members arrived to assist. EMS provided assistance on scene as well.

    The male was taken to a hospital where he was treated and released.  The initial responding RCMP members also went to the hospital where all have been released. One member remains off duty while the other two have returned to duty.

    A judicial interim release hearing was held.  Robin Jeremy Tatham was released on a Recognizance and is scheduled to appear in court on June 20 in Canmore.  He is charged with six criminal code charges; disarming a police officer, assault police officer with a weapon (x2) and assault a police officer (x3).

    “The efforts put forth by the attending officers to maintain control of this situation in the face of their injuries is to be commended” says Staff Sergeant Michael Buxton-Carr, Banff Detachment Commander.  “An incident like this demonstrates the risks we face and overcome on a daily basis.”


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    Community Events

    june, 2018

    wed30may - 26sepmay 303:30 pmsep 26ATB Financial Downtown Market(may 30) 3:30 pm - (september 26) 6:30 pm

    sun10jun - 24jun 1010:00 amjun 242018 Edgar Farms Asparagus Festival10:00 am - 4:00 pm (24)

    sun17jun - 1juljun 1710:00 amjul 1- 4:00 pm2018 Edgar Farms Asparagus Festival10:00 am - (july 1) 4:00 pm

    tue19jun7:00 pm- 11:30 pmSebastian Bach w/ Guest The Standstills & Sweetgrass- June 19th7:00 pm - 11:30 pm

    tue19jun - 15juljun 198:00 pmjul 15Freewill Shakespeare Festival8:00 pm - (july 15) 10:30 pm

    wed20jun9:00 am- 11:00 amAlliance MeetingsTopic: Red Deer’s Community Safety Strategy9:00 am - 11:00 am

    wed20jun5:45 pm- 8:00 pmRed Deer County Eco-Buffer and Shelterbelt Workshop5:45 pm - 8:00 pm

    thu21jun - 3juljun 216:30 pmjul 3THE WORKS ART & DESIGN FESTIVAL6:30 pm - (july 3) 12:00 am

    fri22jun - 1juljun 227:30 pmjul 1- 9:15 pmEdmonton International Jazz Festival7:30 pm - (july 1) 9:15 pm

    fri22jun - 23jun 229:00 pmjun 23A Weekend With St. James Gate I Bo's Bar & Stage9:00 pm - 1:00 am (23)

    sat23junAll DayRed Deer Highland Games(All Day: saturday)

    sat23jun4:00 pm- 8:00 pmOlds Beer Festival4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

    sun24jun11:00 am- 2:00 pmOne Eleven Jazzy Brunch11:00 am - 2:00 pm

    mon25jun - 3sepAll DayRip ‘N Rec Summer Pass returns for youth in Red Deer(All Day)

    tue26jun5:00 pm- 6:30 pmUnited Way Central Alberta Annual General Meeting5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

    tue26jun - 22juljun 268:00 pmjul 22Freewill Shakespeare Festival8:00 pm - (july 22) 10:30 pm

    wed27jun - 1juljun 279:00 amjul 1- 8:00 pmWestern Canadian Breeders Championships9:00 am - (july 1) 8:00 pm

    wed27jun2:00 pm- 3:30 pmMayor’s Garden Party2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

    sat30jun9:00 am- 12:00 pmRed Deer Roundup 5k/10k/15k Run9:00 am - 12:00 pm

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