Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wildfire news, January 13

Esperanza fire jury selection

Selection for the trial of Raymond Lee Oyler, accused of arson for the Esperanza fire that took the lives of five U. S. Forest Service firefighters, began Monday. Here is an excerpt from an article in the Press Enterprise:
Prospective panelists were told they could expect to serve 40 trial days -- four days a week -- from Jan. 20 through April 3.

In the first group of 80 prospective jurors, only four immediately said they were available for the lengthy trial and were sent to fill out lengthy questionnaires. Under individual questioning by Morgan, another 21 were told to also fill out the forms.

At the end of the first day, about 160 jurors were reviewed and about 55 were handed the questionnaire to fill out.

The economy played a role. Jury candidates reported they or their spouses had been laid off work recently. One man said he was let go from a Fortune 500 company after 34 years. Another lost a job after about two decades in construction. They were excused.

"It is a sign of the times," Deputy District Attorney Michael Hestrin said outside court. While there are always economic hardship claims among a large panel of prospective jurors, "this trial seems a little heavier this time."

The routine is expected to repeat today. Attorneys said they hoped to get 100 prospective jurors out of the 320 initial panelists called.

Stay and Defend

Wildfire Today has covered "Stay and Defend" or "Shelter in Place" programs previously. The concept, developed in Australia and South Africa, continues to gather momentum in this country. The LA Times has an article on the topic in today's edition.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An important part of the Stay and Defend.... or Leave Early concept is the increasing numbers of civilians killed or injured while attempting to evacuate a safer area, only to drive into chaos. (Oakland Hills 1991, Cedar 2003, Witch & Harris 2007, etc.)

A secondary benefit is that homes with proper clearances and construction can easily and safely be protected by the homeowner and "not require a fire engine in the driveway".

The concept requires a multi-faceted approach:

1) Proper fire clearances,
2) Proper building construction and ordinances,
3) Increased education of the public AND firefighters, and
4) The ability to regulate and enforce.

Chief Roper, Ventura County Fire Department has been a leading advocate of these changes. Numerous groups, including FIRESCOPE, are studying these proposals.

To listen to a recent audio of one of his presentations:


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