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April 18-24, 2007

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News Briefs

By Patricia Lynn Henley


Not so grateful

Firefighters stopped a blaze that destroyed a mobile home on American Canyon Road April 13, but neighbor Frederick Arritt, 64, wasn't appreciative; he was arrested on felony assault charges for punching a fire captain. The blaze began inside the home of Mike Wilson, who was severely burned attempting to stop it with his bare hands. When Wilson ran screaming outside, someone called 911. Firefighters and police responded, finding Wilson's home and car almost completely engulfed. Next-door neighbor Arritt was spraying the conflagration with a garden hose. "He started yelling obscenities at the officers and said he could put it out himself," recalls American Canyon fire chief Keith Caldwell. Firefighters repeatedly asked Arritt to leave, but he refused. He became verbally abusive, then hit a fire captain on the side of the head. Wilson's burns were treated at Queen of the Valley Medical Center, and Arritt was arrested and booked into Napa County Jail. "It's just one of those unfortunate events," Caldwell notes. "It's only the second time we've had something like this happen in my 31 years as a firefighter."

Jobs well-done

Seamus Ramsey and Chris Throp, who rescued a four-year-old boy from a burning vehicle in January, are among 11 people being honored April 25 at the Real Heroes Breakfast by the American Red Cross Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. Those being singled out as deserving thanks and praise include Sebastopol police officer Dennis Colthurst, who spent months getting help for a family of nine neglected children; Marjorie Davis, 85, who founded and runs Fawn Rescue; Salt Point State Park lifeguard Osh McNulty, 21, who made two lifesaving rescues in one day; and Army Pfc. Caesar Viglienzone, who died Feb. 1 in Baghdad.

Lost labyrinth

Marin County Open Space District rangers stirred up a controversy recently when they removed the small stones outlining a circular labyrinth at the top of Oak Manor fire road near Fairfax. So far, 448 people have signed an online protest petition calling the labyrinth path, reportedly constructed in 2004, "a landmark, public meeting place, sacred space and object of natural beauty." Ron Paolini, deputy director for the open space district, says man-made structures are routinely removed from the district's lands, which are kept as natural as possible. A complaint about the labyrinth prompted district rangers to visit the site, remove the rocks and plant native grass seeds covered by straw. "We basically manage the land for the resources. That's our role," Paolini explains. He says the district has not received the petition about the labyrinth. "I'm sure our management will look at anything that comes in."


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