Morongo Basin firefighters, from Morongo Valley to Twentynine Palms, were busy yesterday fighting four fires. The day started with a mobile home fire in Morongo Valley at 6:15 a.m. that is blamed on an overloaded electrical outlet. Morongo Valley firefighters didn’t have far to go to fight the blaze, as it was literally across the highway from the fire station, in the 49800 block of 29 Palms Highway. Morongo Valley Deputy Fire Chief Jim Brakebill said the 1977 Silver Stream mobile home was fully involved in flames when crews from Morongo Valley and Calfire arrived. Brakebill added that fighting the fire was tough, as it was tucked in very close next to a building and a trailer. Firefighters had the blaze knocked down in about 30 minutes and Brakebill praised his firefighters for keeping the blaze from spreading. Red Cross was called in to assist the resident as he lost not only his home but all his belongings as well.

The second fire of the day came in at 4 p.m. in the area of Smoke Tree Avenue and Old Dale Road. Fire Captain Jay Dimoff said a 50-year-old man was working on his motorhome when there was a spark and a flash. A Sheriff’s report states the victim poured gasoline into the carburetor to get the engine running. The engine backfired, causing a fire. The man suffered second-degree burns; he was transported by Morongo Basin Ambulance to Hi-Desert Medical Center and then flown to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the motorhome and kept it from spreading to nearby vehicles.

Then shortly before 7 p.m., firefighters were called to a fire in Landers, near Coleman Road and Old Woman Springs Road. Firefighters could see the orange glow from the fire from miles away; they arrived to find an abandoned cabin fully involved in flames. County Fire Battalion Chief Donnie Viloria said there was no power to the cabin. The structure is a total loss; a fire investigator has been called in to determine the cause of the blaze. Viloria said firefighters had to get additional water from the hydrant at the unused Fire Station 19 in Landers.

And then at 1:15 a.m. this morning, firefighters were called to a barn on fire in Yucca Valley near Warren Vista Avenue and San Andreas Road. Viloria said a barn and a travel trailer were destroyed in the blaze, but the resident and firefighters were able to rescue all five horses. The cause of the fire is under investigation.


Among the hundreds of new state laws that take effect in 2020 are laws affecting tenants and landlords. Managing editor Tami Roleff highlights some of the more significant changes…

The state has imposed new limits on rent increases; rents can not be raised more than 5 percent—plus inflation—each year.

Landlords can no longer turn away tenants who use Section 8 vouchers to partially pay for their rent.

A current law that requires landlords to give tenants who have been evicted from a foreclosed-on property 90 days to get out has become permanent. It was set to expire.

And California homeowners will have more flexibility to build granny flats or mother-in-law units on their properties.


Hidden Valley campground is blanketed in snow December 28, 2019. Tami Roleff photo

Several roads in Joshua Tree National Park remain closed for safety reasons after a snow storm hit the area December 26, 2019. A press release yesterday afternoon said Park Roads that remain closed are Big Horn, Odelle, Queen Valley, Lost Horse Mine and Geology Tour Roads. Campgrounds are all open but roads into these areas are still soft with mud. Park officials stressed that visitors use caution when driving in the park. Snow melt in some areas can freeze overnight creating unexpected icy conditions for travelers.


In other park news, Joshua Tree National Park’s Black Rock Nature Center in Yucca Valley will be undergoing construction from this Monday, January 6 through March 5. The nature center will be open its regular hours during this time, but construction may close off areas near the building, including some parking spaces.


A new year means new state laws in California. Because a girl with peanut allergies died at summer camp from being exposed to peanuts, food handlers will now be required to take training on major food-based allergens. Food handlers will have until the end of 2020 to get the new state-issued food handler card. Reporter Rebecca Havely explains some of the changes concerning health insurance and coverage in California…

While the federal mandate that required all Americans to have health insurance is no longer in effect, the state is requiring all residents to have insurance. However, no penalty will be enforced until you file your taxes in April 2021.

Women have been able to get birth control pills through an app on their phone, but were required to have a video conference with a health professional first. No longer; women can now get their prescription with participating pharmacies through the app.