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US: One dead, tens of thousands flee as fires rage in California | US & Canada News

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A firefighting pilot was killed in a helicopter crash as crews worked in blistering heat on Wednesday to tackle fires started by lightning strikes across northern California in the United States, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Nearly 11,000 lightning strikes were documented during a 72-hour stretch this week in the heaviest spate of thunderstorms to hit California in over a decade, igniting 367 individual fires. Almost two dozen of them have grown into major conflagrations, authorities said.

Ash and smoke filled the air in the city of San Francisco, which was surrounded by wildfires burning to the north, east and south. Will Powers, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), said thousands of residents were under mandatory evacuation orders in an area north of San Francisco, collectively dubbed the LNU Lightning Complex.

The fire had consumed nearly 20,234 hectares (50,000 acres) on Wednesday night, and jumped across the main Interstate 80 highway earlier in the day, briefly blocking traffic in both directions.

In Vacaville, a city of about 100,000 people between San Francisco and Sacramento, police and firefighters went door-to-door before dawn in a frantic scramble to warn residents to evacuate as flames bore down on the area.

At least 50 structures were destroyed, including some homes, while 50 were damaged.

Wearing a singed nightgown, Diane Bustos said her husband abandoned their car as it caught fire and then blew up on the west side of Vacaville early on Wednesday. She lost both her shoes while she and her family ran for their lives.

“I made it, God saved me,” Bustos told local television station KPIX.

Firefighters extinguish spot fires as the LNU Lightning Complex fire burns through the area in Fairfield, California [Justin Sullivan/ Getty via AFP]

US - HENNESSEY - FIRE - BURNS - IN - NAPA - COUNTY

A firefighting aircraft drops retardant ahead of the LNU Lightning Complex Fire in Napa [Justin Sullivan/Getty Images via AFP]

Karen Hansen evacuated her Vacaville home late on Tuesday as the flames rushed towards their small farm, packing up her smaller animals but unable to bring along two beloved horses.

“The whole sky was red-orange and it was coming over the hill there and it was massive. I’ve never seen anything like it and it only took a few minutes to get here,” she told The Associated Press news agency.

They returned on Wednesday to find the house and barn destroyed, but Hansen was thrilled to see that her horses had survived. “I’m not upset about the house. I’m just happy that my horses and animals are alive and my daughter,” she said.

There were social media accounts of people trapped in the blaze, but CalFire’s Powers said authorities had no reports of missing people.

In central California, a pilot died when a helicopter on an early morning water-dropping mission in Fresno County, about 160 miles (258 km) south of San Francisco, crashed. 

The Fresno County Sheriff’s search-and-rescue team was summoned shortly after 11am to recover the pilot’s body, but it had not reached the crash site because it was in the fire zone, said department spokesman Tony Botti.

“They’re trying to methodically and safely get them in and hopefully not get exposed to the fire,” he said.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said “we are experiencing fires the like of which we haven’t seen in many, many years”, adding he had requested 375 fire engines from out of state to assist in battling the blazes.

He declared a statewide fire emergency on Tuesday.

Fanned by “red-flag” high winds, the fires are racing through vegetation parched by a record-breaking heatwave that began last Friday. Meteorologists have said the extreme heat and lightning storms were both linked to the same atmospheric weather pattern – an enormous high-pressure area hovering over the US’s southwest.

The largest group of fires, called the SCU Lightning Complex, had scorched at least 34,400 hectares (85,000) acres some 32km (20 miles) east of Palo Alto, while a third cluster, the CZU August Lightning Complex, grew to more than 4,046 hectares (10,000 acres) and forced evacuations around 21km (13 miles)  south of Palo Alto.

The last time California experienced dry lightning storms of such devastating proportions was in 2008, according to CalFire.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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