fresno county

The superintendent of Immanuel Schools said Wednesday he’s pleased to no longer be arguing the legality of keeping his K-12 private school in Reedley open. That’s due to a recent settlement among Immanuel, Fresno County, and the state attorney general’s office.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno Community Chorus stopped singing in March just ahead of shelter-in-place orders and the county’s adoption of COVID-19 restrictions. Seven months later, the group reunited in person to sing, not in a concert hall but in a parking lot.

On Tuesday evening, dozens of cars drove into the Calvary Chapel parking lot in Central Fresno. They parked in neat rows close to the church buildings before a small stage and sound system. 

On this night, they’re singing via FM transmitter, like at a drive-in movie theater.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

This week, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office allowed some people whose homes were destroyed by the Creek Fire to see what’s left of their property in phases.

On Wednesday, those who live in the community of Alder Springs drove up to see the damage, including Dena and Jacob Villanueva. At the mandatory check-in at Foothill Elementary School, Red Cross Volunteers gave them a rake, shovel, sifter, and masks. 

Dena said she knew fire was always a possibility, but living in that community was irreplaceable.

Courtesy of Albert Yurgal, James Sponsler

When James Sponsler and two close friends set out on a backpacking trip Friday night over Labor Day Weekend, they didn’t know the Creek Fire had started 30 miles away.

 

“Just about lunch time on Saturday was when we noticed the massive thunderhead,” says Sponsler. “Unbeknownst to us, this was the fire itself.”

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

People across the San Joaquin Valley have been rallying to assist evacuees from the Creek Fire. For one family, the gift of a tent led to a change in outlook.

When Matthew Warner and his family were evacuated from their home in Tollhouse last week, they weren’t planning on camping, but they have three farm dogs that make finding a hotel room difficult.

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

With the devastation caused by the Creek Fire, the chairperson of Big Sandy Rancheria calls herself a messenger for her community. So far, most of the 170-member tribe have evacuated.

Elizabeth Kipp is the Auberry tribe’s chairperson. Since evacuating to Fresno, she’s made multiple trips back up Highway 168 to attend early morning logistics meetings with CalFire and sheriff’s deputies.

CalFire - Fresno County District Twitter

More than 30,000 people in Fresno County have had to leave their homes due to the Creek Fire. 

Sharon Souza is one of them. She left Tollhouse Tuesday morning, but spent the weekend deciding what items would stay and what would go. She says she tried to be practical rather than sentimental.  

“At some point, when I realized ‘I can’t take everything with me,’ I actually, one night, went around and took pictures of my pictures on the wall,” she says. “I took pictures of family favorite recipes, I did things like that.”

sierrausd.org / Sierra Unified School Distrcit Website

Sierra Unified School District in the Fresno County foothills is suspending online instruction for the week due to the Creek Fire burning in the Sierra National Forest. 

Superintendent Alan Harris estimates up to 75 percent of district staff and students are being evacuated or have already been displaced by the fire. 

“We need to get to safety, and get to security,” says Harris. “Once we do, then we’ll settle back into what’s happening with the learning.”

Courtesy of Tony Botti, Fresno County Sheriff's Office / Fresno County Sheriff's Office

UPDATE 12:23 p.m. 9/29/20

 

Containment is at 44% with 305,240 acres burned. 

 

The Following Evacuation Orders are Lifted in Fresno County:

Zone F1O: The south boundary extends to the end of properties located south of  Peterson Road. The west boundary begins at 37887 Peterson Road. The north and  east boundaries are the intersection of Peterson Road and James Mountain Road. 

 

Healthy Fresno County Facebook page

 

Over the last month, the spread of COVID-19 in the San Joaquin Valley has slowed. But not all measures of the disease have improved, and health officials say it’s no time for the community to let down its guard.

Fresno County’s Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra is concerned about the virus spreading during Labor Day weekend. In a media call on Tuesday, he said he knows it’s hard to hear, but non-essential gatherings should be cancelled.

 

Monica Lam / KQED

More than 1,100 people at the Fresno County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The running tally of infections at the county-run complex actually surpasses those at all but two state prisons in California. But unlike the state’s careful tracking and reporting of cases at prisons and nursing homes, data on COVID-19 infections in county jails have not been consistently collected or made readily available to the public.

Fresno County officials announced the results from January’s homeless point-in-time count Wednesday, including a significant rise in unhoused individuals. 

This year’s annual point-in-time count found 3,251 people experiencing homelessness throughout Fresno County. That’s about a 50 percent increase from 2019, when the number of people counted was 2,131. However, more people than usual were counted in shelters.

Joe Moore (file photo) / Valley Public Radio

Fresno and Tulare Counties declared local emergencies Thursday after rendering plant Baker Commodities in Kerman stopped accepting livestock carcasses. 

Jimmy Andreoli, a spokesman with the company, says it has reached its limit in how many animals it can process according to its permit with the state Air Resources Board. If it surpasses that limit, it could be fined. 

Christopher Greer, the assistant agricultural commissioner in Tulare County says the summer heat kills more cows.  

Facebook Screenshot, Fresno County Supervisor Steve Brandau

Fresno County has filed an injunction against the Reedley-based private, Christian schools that began in-person classes earlier this month, despite prohibitive state guidelines. 

Supervisor Steve Brandau held a press conference Monday afternoon to oppose the lawsuit against Immanuel Schools, which serve kindergarten through twelfth grade students.

“It isn’t because Immanuel is a private school, a Christian school or anything of the sort. I feel the same way about any school, private or public,” said Brandau.

 

The City of Fresno’s response rate to the 2020 census is lower than the state average of 63.5%. Right now, 62.3% of households have responded, but the rate falls below 50% in certain Fresno zip codes.

Alice Daniel / KVPR

 

 

Outside the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Fresno, volunteers unload boxes of ribbed sinqua from a farmer’s pickup truck.  

“All right they’re all good to go,” a young man says. “All of it?” another volunteer asks as he and others line up to carry the boxes of vegetables inside.

 

Fresno County Behavioral Health Department

 

In June, 17 people in Fresno County died by suicide, a number that the Fresno County Behavioral Health Department revealed is the highest of any month since at least 2017. It’s made all the more stark by the fact that early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, suicides had dropped significantly.

Patil Armenian / Community Regional Medical Center

Earlier this spring, even as hospital workers received new guidance for personal protective equipment and learned to strip off their work clothes before entering their homes, Dr. Patil Armenian, an emergency physician at Community Regional Medical Center and UCSF Fresno, told KVPR that the experience felt like “the calm before the storm.”

 

Fresno County Historical Society's Civil War Revisited Website

Last week, the Fresno County Historical Society announced that its annual Civil War Revisited event won’t be happening this year due to COVID-19. However, the Society is planning an event centered around telling more stories of the 19th Century, beyond the Civil War. 

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