A San Bernardino County Fire Battalion Chief from Yucca Valley led a strike team of five county fire engines and their crews in fighting the Apple fire in Banning, Beaumont, and Oak Glen last week. Managing editor Tami Roleff talked with the chief and files this report…

“We train when we sign up to be firefighters. We like fighting fire.”

County Fire Battalion Chief Scott Tuttle was one of the 2800 firefighters who were called from around the country to help the Apple fire. He left Yucca Valley just a couple hours after the fire started and didn’t return until Saturday morning.

San Bernardino County Fire Battalion Chief Scott Tuttle is leading a strike team of five fire engines at the Apple Fire near Cherry Valley. San Bernardino County Fire photo

“We work 24-hour work cycles; so we have 24 hours we’re on the fireline and then off for 24 hours.”

He said it’s not hard to stay awake.

“You have adrenaline flowing and there’s lots of activity to keep you going.”

Tuttle said he and his strike team were defending houses from the encroaching flames, first in the Cherry Valley area, then the Banning Bench, and Oak Glen areas. The first night, firefighters laid down 7000-8000 feet of hose line to surround and protect a mobile home park.

When firefighters arrive, they have a procedure to follow.

“We do a quick assessment of the house, see what kind of threat potential, and we start doing prep. If the homeowners haven’t done do their own clearing, we clear vegetation, lay hose lines.”

Tuttle urges people to leave if they are ordered to evacuate.

“Number 1 for safety. Number 2, when there’s homeowners in the area and the fire gets so intense they decide they have to leave, and we have fire engines coming in, and we have homeowners leaving, the streets get congested, and it just hampers the fire efforts.”

And he said staying behind to water down your house with a garden hose is basically useless.

“A garden hose is no comparison to a fire hose. The heat from the fire is going to drive the moisture out before the fire even gets there.”

While he enjoyed being in the thick of the firefighting, Tuttle said he’s glad to be home.

“After nine days, I was ready to come home.”

As of this morning, the Apple fire is at 33,424 acres and is 60 percent contained.

A crew of firefighters from Morongo Valley returned Tuesday after helping for about five days at the Stagecoach fire in Kern County, just south of Lake Isabella.


San Bernardino County reported 1,243 new coronavirus cases Tuesday (Aug. 11), — a one-day record — but the spike is due at least partially to technical issues in the state’s database, according to officials. The county also reported that three more people have died due to COVID-19 complications. County spokesman David Wert said the state is cleaning up about 300,000 records statewide, and is “dumping” the data on local jurisdictions this week. For our Morongo Basin the dashboard shows 224 cases: Yucca Valley with 134, Joshua Tree 39, 29 Palms 28, Morongo Valley 18, Landers four, and Pioneertown one.

The San Bernardino County updated numbers, according to county and state public health officials.

Cases: 37,315, up from 36,072 Monday, Aug. 10

Deaths: 549, up from 546 Monday

Hospitalizations: 468 Monday, down from 486 Sunday; suspected patients: 81 Monday, up from 67 Sunday

Intensive-care unit patients: 152 Monday, same as Sunday; suspected patients: 8 Monday, up from 6 Sunday

Recoveries: 29,440, up from 28,642 Monday

Skilled-nursing facilities: Residents: cases, 1,495, as of Sunday; deaths: 225. Employee cases: 951

State prisons in San Bernardino County, cases: 154 active in-custody cases

People tested: 289,087, up from 283,161 Monday


Under a ballot measure entitled, “Revised Charter: County of San Bernardino,” the board of supervisors has proposed a new county charter. But before supervisors can enact the proposed charter, they need approval from the voting public at the November general election. In this report we continue our coverage of the main points of the new charter with a look at the provisions for filling irregular vacancies on the board of supervisors. Here’s reporter Mike Lipsitz…

When a county supervisor leaves office prior to the end of his/her term, current rules require the remaining four supervisors appoint a replacement within 30 days of the vacancy. If no appointment is made by the 30th day, California’s governor may name a replacement. The proposed new charter gives supervisors 60 days in which to fill the seat or call for a special mail -in ballot election. If the board fails to act within those 60 days, then a special election will automatically be triggered. This provision removes the governor from the equation, giving sitting supervisors a good deal more room to do as they please.

Join us in our next report when we will look at how the proposed charter would change the county’s right to exercise eminent domain. You can review specifics of the proposed new charter and leave comments at newcharter.sbcounty.gov.


The San Bernardino Superior Court is launching a new committee to combat bias in the courtroom. Reporter Joshua King has more information…

In order to combat the presence of bias in the courtroom, the San Bernardino Superior Court is launching a community outreach committee. The committee will work with local bar associations to sponsor and support educational programs designed to eliminate bias, develop and maintain an informal procedure for receiving complaints related to bias in the courtroom, including but not limited to bias based on disability, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.  Members may include, but are not limited to, judges, lawyers, court administrators, and representatives from minority, women’s, gay and lesbian bar associations and from organizations that represent persons with disabilities. Interested members of the public are encouraged to submit a letter of intent to outreach@sb-court.org by September 30, 2020 to start the application process explaining why they would like to join the committee.


The Morongo Unified School District Board of Trustees held its regular board meeting last night via videoconference. Reporter Andrew Dieleman has the meeting details…

At last night’s meeting, the MUSD Board of Trustees viewed presentations on student achievement plans from the principals of Joshua Tree Elementary, Yucca Mesa Elementary, Twentynine Palms Junior High, and La Contenta Middle Schools. The plans for all school sites have been modified from previous years to use the District’s new distance learning and independent study programs to help students reach education goals for English language arts, mathematics, writing, health and wellness, and special education programs to name a few.

The Morongo Unified School District Board of Trustees. Top row from left to right, top to bottom: President Hillary Slotta, Trustee Chris Proudfoot, and Superintendent Tom Baumgarten. Bottom row from left to right, top to bottom: Assistant Superintendents Sharon Flores, Mike Ghelber, and Amy Woods. Trustees John Cole, Kerri Condley, and Karalee Hargove were also in attendance.

In open session, the board approved an increase of more than $8.6 million to the district budget based on recent changes to the state education budget. Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Amy Woods also gave a presentation, where she stated that distance learning schedules, book and digital device checkout schedules, and elementary instructional minutes for the 2020-2021 school year have been completed for many school sites. The secondary bell schedule for when district school sites eventually reopen has also been completed.