Compressed log warning
Just about everyone in town is aware of the house fire that occurred in town a couple of weeks ago. If it had not been for the awareness of an 8-year-old girl, it is very possible that her mother may not have made it out of the structure alive. An operable smoke alarm in her bedroom awoke the girl and she woke up her father who then managed to wake his wife.
In piecing together the events of the first couple of minutes of the incident, it is obvious that there were a couple of minutes of confusion until the realization that the single-family residence was on fire. Fortunately all three occupants and their pets were able to vacate the structure with assistance from neighbors and the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department.
The investigation revealed, however, that one of the contributing factors that led to the incident was the burning of too many compressed logs in the insert wood stove. Manufacturers will tell you that you should never burn more than one or two of these types of logs. This is because the logs burn at a much greater temperature than standard wood. Mixing both natural wood and compressed logs is appropriate, so long as no more than one or two compressed logs are used.
In the past few years, the Fire Department has been called to several locations where numerous compressed logs had been inserted into stoves or fireplaces. While this practice will create abundant heat, the problem is that the stoves and fireplaces are not designed for such significant levels of heat. Avoid the temptation to fill the fire box up with numerous compressed logs.
This incident is also a perfect example why smoke alarms are considered one of the best investments that a family can make in relationship to their safety. Install both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms: install in bedrooms, in hallways leading to bedrooms, and at least one per floor level. Interconnect alarms so when one sounds, they all sound. Test every six months, replace batteries once a year, and replace alarms after 10 years. Nearly two-thirds of home structure fire deaths occur in homes where there was no smoke alarm or where smoke alarms were present but failed to operate.
Also install carbon monoxide alarms in bedrooms or in hallways leading to bedrooms and at least one per floor level. Locate an alarm within 20 feet of any combustible appliances. Test every six months, replace batteries once a year, and replace alarms after five years.
For more information or for any questions pertaining to fire related issues, and compressed log use in particular, feel free to contact the MLFD at 760.934.2300.
Mammoth Lakes Fire Department
Thanks, Christmas angels …
We are overwhelmed by the gracious support of our Angel Giving Tree that our communities in Lee Vining, June Lake and Mono City showed during this past holiday season. Because of so much generosity, we were able to give presents to more than 55 children this Christmas.
There are so many anonymous givers that we don’t even know, and so thank you to those of you who give without recognition.
We would also like to thank Mono Market: Chris and his gang; the June Lake General Store: Linda and her crew; the June Lake Women’s club; the June Lake Women’s Bible study group and all the Lee Vining Presbyterian Church members.
Anna, Jordyn, Ella and Hannah, you gave up your holiday time, too. All of you are Angels and we couldn’t have done the Angel Giving Tree without you!
THANK YOU ALL SO VERY MUCH!
Serving at home as well as abroad
As a veteran I believe that service to one’s country is paramount – it is one of the most important ideas that we have
in our democracy. But, service to one’s country does not always mean wearing a uniform and serving overseas. It is also about serving at home.
Over the course of the past year, Washington politicians have threatened places like the Bodie Hills with legislation that could have had lasting consequences. Currently, the Bodie Hills are wild and free, with small wet meadows, free flowing streams and wildlife. This is how we want to keep it, in the natural state it’s in today. But mining interests, who’d be granted easier access if the legislation passes, threaten to change the Bodie Hills forever.
There is a lot of history behind these hills. Since William S. Bodey came to these lands in 1859, the area has largely been defined by mining. Bodey came here in search of gold; he found it and founded the mining camp that is now California’s official ghost town (and a big tourist attraction). Despite years of boom and bust activity, the majority of land around Bodie remains untouched from previous mining excavations. Keeping the historical and cultural values of Bodie and the surrounding landscape intact is vital.
As I previously mentioned, multiple pieces of legislation have been introduced in congress this past year that could threaten lands such as Bodie. One of those bills is H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011. This bill would release our public lands from the protections congress has afforded them and open them up to operations such as mining and drilling. This legislation is callous and radical. As citizens we must be good stewards of this land and speak out against legislation such as this.
Stewardship. What does this mean? In life, we are stewards to many things. My time in the Army taught me many of these lessons. I was a steward to the soldiers that I served with as well as our great nation. Today, being a good steward means using my voice to speak out on the threats that could be posed to special places such as the Bodie Hills. My voice counts in its protection and so does yours.
In thinking of my own military service, I am also reminded of the thousands of troops stationed at bases close by such as 29 Palms, Edwards Air Force Base, Ft. Irwin and Nellis Air Force Base. Many of the men and women stationed at these installations are returning from grueling tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is lands such as these here in Mono County that can serve as a place of healing. These lands can serve as a means of reintegration into our society for many of these brave souls who sometimes carry wounds that are not visible to the human eye. These lands offer a spiritual connection to life.
Finally, wild places such as the Bodie Hills are bigger than just those that live in the area. This region continuously attracts thousands of visitors from all over California and the U.S. each year. They come to experience this historic landmark. They come to breathe the air of the Eastern Sierra and witness nature in its original state. This also means revenue for local governments and small businesses in the area. Conservation of this precious land is also good for this region economically.
We need to remember why it is important to protect this land. Not only are we protecting the environment we live in, we are also sustaining our economy. I want to see this land preserved for future generations and our veterans. This is why I feel my service is still important today.
L. Mark Starr
Mark Starr is a Los Angeles resident and Iraq war veteran. As program director for Vet Voice Foundation, Mark is working to raise awareness of public lands conservation issues, including seeking long-term protection for the Bodie Hills. He is bringing a group of veterans to the Eastern Sierra in March for recreation and renewal on Mono County’s public lands. For more information, visit vetvoicefoundation.org.
Speaking out for the victim
As a widow and a survivor of multiple childhood sexual abuse, I have a lot to say about the Mammoth Lakes community response to Dr. Andrew Bourne’s death. First, shock and denial are hallmarks of the earliest stages of grief, and so I cannot hold it against anyone who clings to fond or reverent memories of the late doctor. It would be normal to refuse to acknowledge that his alleged sexual crimes against a minor child could somehow be minimized by the good he has done for others.
However, as an American citizen and a former child mental health worker, I know that when a man is initially held on one million dollars bail for alleged sex crimes against a minor, there is sufficient legal evidence against him to prove wrongdoing.
Investigations involving minors are sometimes not completed (by interviewing the minor, which prompts further investigation) until the perpetrator is already jailed based on sufficient evidence of wrongdoing. In this case, emails and other electronic communications as well as police surveillance were enough evidence to arrest Dr. Bourne. While Dr. Bourne was still alive, SB County prosecutor Mary Barron had been quoted by several sources as saying that additional charges would be filed against him in this case; those charges were still forthcoming at the time of his death.
That said, this man committed suicide while out on bail for solicitation of child sex. He knew the scope of what his interactions with the victim had been before he was charged, and that further charges were pending. He evaded taking full responsibility and accountability for his actions AND he denied the victim- a minor child- her due representation
in court. In other words, he knew the extent of how he would be accused, and what his chances were in court.
We keep hearing from his lawyer, that the emails were benign and the case was defensible. This is not usually the case in high profile sex scandal charges involving minors. If a prospective court case reaches the point of prosecution that was reached in this case, there is enough evidence to prosecute the accused. Most child sex crimes are not reported, let alone found to have sufficient evidence to prosecute, often due to the age of the victim.
So, let’s think about the victim. For her own privacy, and by law, she remains nameless. She was not listed in the media by name, so nobody who knows her can support her or share her pain, until she is ready to share her story. For survivors of childhood sex crimes, that can take a while. Her situation is not yet real to the public, as Dr. Bourne’s suicide allowed him to escape charges, and Mr. Walker has not yet been tried. Many of us have stories of family members saved by caring surgeons, but how many of us have a daughter, a sister, a grandchild, niece, cousin, a student, a teammate, a classmate or a friend, whose sexual experiences over a two year period, starting at age 14, led to the arrest of two men on one million dollars bail each? How unfair that Dr. Bourne has escaped the legal system, and that his victim will never see justice served on her behalf. Additionally, she must now deal with the complexity of his suicide, and its effect on her emotionally as well as on others.
How insulting to this girl and to her family, that this man chose a path that led to his arrest, and then chose to end his own life rather than face the consequences, and now a fund is being set up in his name for his family! Her losses at his hands will never be amended by justice. She will never be compensated in any way for emotional damages or for crimes committed against her. Think of how devastating these experiences would be at her age, or any age. This man did the wrong thing many times over, to everyone involved, and now the community is being called upon to help his family without reaching out to acknowledge her!
For those wishing to donate in support of Dr. Bourne’s family, please consider asking that a Victim’s Fund be set up at the same bank- and make an equal donation. At the very least, donate to a Rape Crisis Center such as Wild Iris in Mammoth Lakes.