A Twentynine Palms home was destroyed by a fire early Sunday morning, and a neighboring structure also suffered damage. County Fire Battalion Chief Bob Evans said firefighters were called to the blaze in the 6400 block of Cholla Avenue at 12:48 a.m. where they found a single-family house well involved with fire. Twentynine Palms firefighters began a defensive attack while waiting for crews from the Combat Center, Joshua Tree, and Yucca Valley. Neighbors reported hearing an explosion. Meanwhile, a false alarm call 10 minutes later about a fire in the 6600 block of National Park Drive in Twentynine Palms was an issue, as one crew had to be pulled off the fire and sent to check out the call. Once crews were all on scene of the Cholla Avenue fire, firefighters transitioned to an interior attack of the fire. Strong winds made fighting the fire challenging, and flames spread to the attic of a neighboring house. No one was at home in the original house; the occupant of the neighboring house was able to get out safely with the help of the Sheriff’s Department. The fire was knocked down in about 30 minutes, but it took more than two hours to mop up the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Fire destroyed a home in the 6400 block of Cholla Avenue in Twentynine Palms early Saturday morning.
Rebecca Havely photo


The Sheriff’s captain of the Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Station, and the chief of police for Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms, was the guest on the Up Close Show Friday (February 26). Captain Luke Niles discussed many topics related to law enforcement during the show. Managing editor Tami Roleff says Niles started the show by reassuring residents that the Morongo Basin is a relatively safe place to live…

“The communities out here are wonderful.”

Sheriff’s Captain Luke Niles has been in charge of the Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Station for about a year now, but he’s been a resident here since 2002, when he got out of the Marine Corps. Niles said the Morongo Basin has relatively few serious crimes, which include homicide, rape, robbery, and arson (among others).

“In the grand scheme of things … the Morongo Basin is a relatively safe community, always has been. But we do fluctuate with a lot of the property crimes and unfortunately, crimes against person—assaults, things of that nature…. Those assaults tend to be suspects with known victims. They’re not random crimes.”

Niles said the Morongo Basin is doing better than the numbers suggest, due to a high number of tourists who visit our area, thus increasing our population.

The biggest challenges from tourists are that they often get lost or disoriented in our area, which requires a search and rescue call.

“They follow the GPS until they’re stuck.”

While the search and rescue calls can be critical during the hot months, the deputies generally enjoy their contacts with the tourists.

“We get to meet them, talk to them, give them directions, and tell them wonderful places to eat.”


In the endless cycle of scam calls, it seems like scammers never run out of tricks. In one-ring phone scams, the goal is not always getting you to answer, it’s getting you to call back. Every so often, your phone may ring once and then stop. Thinking you missed an important call; you may be tempted to call the number back. Reporter Cassidy Taylor tells you why that is not a good idea…

Returning the call could cost you, literally. One-ring calls may appear to be from phone numbers somewhere in the United States, but savvy scammers often use international numbers from regions that also begin with three-digit codes – for example, “232” goes to Sierra Leone and “809” goes to the Dominican Republic. Scammers may also match the area code that you use.

If you call back, you risk being connected to a phone number outside the U.S. As a result, you may wind up being charged a fee for connecting, along with significant per-minute fees for as long as they can keep you on the phone. These charges may show up on your bill as premium services, international calling, or toll-calling.

To avoid this scam:

Don’t answer or return any calls from numbers you don’t recognize.

Before calling unfamiliar numbers, check to see if the area code is international.

If you do not make international calls, ask your phone company to block outgoing international calls on your line.

Always be cautious, even if a number appears authentic.

If you believe you have received a scam call, you can contact the Sheriff’s Department non-emergency line at 760-366-4175.


With new guidance for youth sports put in place by the California Department of Public Health Thursday (February 26), many students and parents from the Morongo Unified School District have pleaded and protested for the return of athletic conditioning for students. In response to the community, the school board will hold a special meeting tonight (March 1) to discuss, and possibly take action on, resuming both athletic conditioning and special education cohorts. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. and will be live streamed from the district’s official YouTube page.


Former Z107.7 News reporter and Golden Mike Award winner David Haldane dropped by our studios recently to discuss the publication of his latest book of short stories. Reporter Heather Clisby caught up with David and has the scoop…

Entitled “Jenny on the Street: And Other Tales of Reverence and Revolution by a Very Young Man,” author David Haldane was not expecting much when he found the 13 short stories jammed in a drawer.

“They pretty much had been laid forgotten in a desk drawer for decades,” said Haldane. “I sent them to the publisher and much to my amazement, a few weeks later, I get a contract.”

As Haldane notes in the book’s opening disclaimer (“I did not write these stories. In fact, they were written by a much younger man who bears my name.”), the stories were written at a different time in his life. Now in his 70s, the book was penned by Haldane ages 20 through 30.

“These stories reflect a time in my life where I was in a very, very different place than I am now,” said Haldane. “These were written either in or about the ’60s and early ’70s when there was a huge counterculture going on. I was actively involved in it as an activist politically, socially and every way. And so, these stories kind of reflected that person. And so I thought, ‘Oh my god.’ It was a little embarrassing for me even because I thought, ‘Geez, these stories are not who I am today. These stories are who I was 40 years ago.’”

Haldane sees strong similarities between the counter-culture movement of the ’60s and the frustrations of today.

“What struck me is how similar in certain ways that era is to what we’re going through today. And that was a shocker to me because that was not intentional,” said Haldane. “But as I began reading the stories again and thinking about and as events began to evolve today, I just recognize so many similarities – emotionally, politically to some extent – in many ways. Even though I’m not an activist now, I’m not involved in this movement in the way I was in that one in any way, but emotionally, there still are some similarities and what I was expressing in those days is not that far off from what I, and I think many people, are feeling today.”

A former staffer of the Los Angeles Times and this news station, Haldane now divides his time between homes in Joshua Tree and the Philippines where he writes a weekly newspaper column called “Expat Eye.” Haldane’s first book, “Nazis & Nudists,” was a memoir.

“I just think, y’know, they’re some pretty good stories written by a somewhat confused but fairly articulate young man who I probably would’ve enjoyed meeting,” said Haldane.

The e-book version will be discounted to .99 cents on Amazon from March 1-7. To purchase the book, go to:

Listen to the full interview with David Haldane: