Sunday, March 5, 2017

A steel worker injured after he fell from the seventh floor to the sixth floor at the criminal courts building under construction in downtown Waukegan, IL

A construction worker was reported to be in good condition after falling from the seventh foor to the sixth floor of a Lake County courthouse tower under construction in downtown Waukegan (Waukegan Fire Department) 

Frank S. Abderholden News-Sun

A steel worker was in good condition after he fell from the seventh floor to the sixth floor at the criminal courts building under construction in downtown Waukegan on Thursday, March 2, and rescuers used a construction crane to get him to the ground and an ambulance.

Waukegan Fire Department Battalion Chief Doug Camarato said the incident occurred Thursday just before 9 a.m. when a worker fell off a ladder approximately 12 feet and was injured. Camarato said at the construction site the elevator only goes to the fifth floor, and from there, steel and other construction workers take a series of temporary staircases to get where they need to go. The elevator is not very big, he said.

The victim was immobilized and the Waukegan Fire Department's Special Rescue Team executed a high-angle rescue, determining that the only safe way to get the worker down was to put him in a "Stokes basket" — a metal rescue litter — and lower him using one of the construction cranes, Camarato said.

The worker was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, Camarato said, adding that the man did not lose consciousness during the accident or rescue.

The long-planned expansion of the Lake County Courthouse complex in Waukegan was approved by the County Board in 2012 and will cost approximately $110 million. The plans are for a 200,000-square-foot tower that will include 12 courtrooms and connect to the current courthouse through an overhead walkway, project manager Matt Guarnery said last summer.

He added that the top two floors could remain unused and unfurnished, a move the Lake County Bar Association says will eliminate six courtrooms from the initial plans.

Despite the uncertainty about the use of the top floors, Guarnery said workers have started to build the lower parking level and base of the new building. The tower will also have an underground tunnel to connect to the Robert H. Babcox Justice Center, which houses the county jail.

58-year-old Elizabeth Roszkowski of North Reading died and a man seriously injured when a large tree fell on their car in Andover, Mass.


Authorities are identifying a woman killed when a large tree fell on her car in Andover.

Massachusetts State Police say 58-year-old Elizabeth Roszkowski of North Reading had been the passenger of a 2007 Toyota Camry driving on Route 125 Saturday afternoon.

She was rushed to the hospital but died of her injuries.

The driver of the car, a 58-year-old man, was also hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. He has not yet been identified.

Police say the crash remains under investigation and it's still not clear what caused the tree to fall. But strong winds had been reported in the region during the day.

The accident closed the roadway for about two hours.


Read more here:
ANDOVER, Mass. (AP) — State police say a woman died and a man seriously injured when a large tree fell on their car in Andover.

The accident was reported at 2:15 p.m. Saturday on Route 125. Police arriving at the scene found the two occupants of the 2007 Toyota Camry trapped inside the crushed vehicle.

A 58-year-old woman from North Reading who was a passenger in the car was taken to a hospital and later pronounced dead.

Police said the man, also 58, was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

Their names were not immediately released.

The accident is under investigation. There was no immediate word on what caused the tree to fall but strong winds had been reported in the region during the day.

The roadway was closed for about two hours after the accident. 


A tree fell on a car on Route 125 in Andover on Saturday afternoon, killing a passenger and seriously injuring the driver, according to State Police.

Police responded to reports of a crash on Route 125 north by Wildwood Road at about 2:15 p.m. and found a 2007 Toyota Camry had been struck by the fallen tree and two people were trapped inside, State Police said.

The passenger, a 58-year-old woman from North Reading, was taken to Lawrence General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her identity has not been released. The driver, a 58-year-old man from North Reading, suffered serious life-threatening injuries and was taken to the same hospital, according to police.

Route 125 was closed for about two hours after the crash, State Police said.

26-year-old Markees Spires of Columbus, GA faces four manslaughter charges, after his pickup truck collided with a car in August 2016 and caught fire on State Route 26, just east of Hurtsboro, Alabama

26-year-old Markees Spires 
HURTSBORO, AL — A Georgia man has been charged in a fiery crash that killed four people in Alabama last summer.

Alabama State Troopers said in a statement Thursday that 26-year-old Markees Spires of Columbus faces four manslaughter charges.

Authorities say Spires' pickup truck collided with a car in August 2016 and caught fire on State Route 26, just east of Hurtsboro.

One of Spires' passengers, 33-year-old Dyanna Nicole Dixon, and the driver of the other car, 19-year-old Deontaye Caple, died at the scene.

Another passenger in Spires' truck, 33-year-old Travis Latrell Davis, and a passenger in Caple's vehicle, 18-year-old Desmond James, later died at hospitals.

Spires suffered serious injuries.

Authorities have not released specific details about what led to the charges.w

DRUNKS DIE IN THE A.M. HOURS: 1 dead, 2 injured after car slammed into a tree and power pole and burst into flames in Fort Pierce, FL

At 3:25 am station 1, station 6, FTO1 and DC1 responded to a single vehicle crash at the intersection of 25th St / Virginia Ave. Three patients total- one DOA and two trauma patients transported by ground to a local trauma facility. When crews arrived the vehicle was fully engulfed with occupants trapped. FPPD is investigating. At this time 25th Street is shut down at this intersection.

Update 8:00 am: one patient was out of the vehicle prior to First Responders arriving due to the quick actions of two bystanders that pulled him from the wreckage.

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. (CBS12) — One person is dead and two others are in the hospital following a crash in Fort Pierce.

The crash happened just after 3 a.m. Sunday at 25th Street and Virginia Avenue.

Fort Pierce Police tell CBS12 the driver of a rental car lost control of the car. The car slammed into a tree and power pole and burst into flames, according to police spokesman Edward Cunningham.

Joseph and his friend John heard the crash from their apartment. They looked outside and saw flames.

"Just the thought that were people inside made me want to run over there," said Joseph. "We started running forward until we saw the flames and we saw the guy hanging from the back of the car and grabbed him by his shirt and pulled him out. Then we heard another scream and John tried (sp) reaching into the car to undo the seat belt but couldn't get to it," he said.

Joseph said he and his friend moved across the street once fire crews arrived. St. Lucie County Fire crews found two people trapped in the car, according to a spokesperson.

One person died at the scene. The two others went to the hospital with traumatic injuries, according to St. Lucie County Fire District.

The victims have not been identified.

Statistics show that most of the drunk-fueled crashes and deaths/injuries are caused during the a.m. hours, just like here.  We would not be surprised if these people or at least the driver were drunk and speeding. 

5 people injured when a massive 7-alarm fire ripped through a row of businesses in Queens, NYC

RICHMOND HILL, Queens (WABC) -- Five people, including two firefighters, were injured when a massive fire ripped through a row of businesses in Queens overnight.

The fire broke out at about 11 p.m. Saturday and spread quickly from one building to another.

The fire, fueled by heavy winds, went to seven alarms and engulfed ten buildings in all.

The frigid conditions made the challenge that much more difficult for hundreds of firefighters.

A number of apartments were also destroyed, and dozens of residents were left homeless.

Firefighters were able to rescue some residents from the apartments.

One firefighter became trapped and had to jump to safety.

"A store was on fire, and we're looking for trapped people on the second floor and the conditions rapidly deteriorated, and one of our members of Ladder 143 got cut off and got trapped up there and had to jump out the second-floor window," said one firefighter.

No one was seriously injured.

Firefighters remained on the scene Sunday morning putting out hot spots.

The cause of the fire is under investigation


Five people were injured and several buildings were damaged following a seven-alarm fire in Queens Saturday night.

FDNY officials received a call about a seven-alarm fire at 110-14 Liberty Street around 10:52 p.m. in Richmond Hill, police said. Several two-story multi-use buildings and others attached were engulfed in the blaze before firefighters quelled the inferno at around 2:40 a.m.

Five people — including two firefighters and three civilians — were injured, fire officials said. One was taken to an area hospital, and two others refused medical attention. A 60-year-old woman was taken to Jamaica Hospital with minor smoke inhalation injuries, police said.

Firefighters tried to douse the bright orange flames as they spread. At least two were on ladders, while tons of others were on the ground. Displaced residents crowded into a nearby Kennedy Fried Chicken, watching in awe as smoke wafted out of charred windows.

Authorities say 40 residents have been displaced and are all being taken care of by the Red Cross. The organization provided financial assistance to eight families, including 23 adults and eight children, as well as food, clothing and blankets for all.

The nonprofit will connect families affected to further emergency assistance from government agencies over the next few days, a spokeswoman from the Red Cross said.

Roughly 250 firefighters and emergency medical service employees were at the scene, fire officials said.

FDNY Chief of Department James Leonard said cold and windy weather conditions caused the fire to spread and hampered attempts to quell the inferno, which quickly ravaged 13 buildings. Eight of the buildings affected had heavy fire.

He believes the blaze started inside the ACE store, and it's not believed to be suspicious.

Shattered glass and ice covered the streets along Liberty Avenue. Light peeked through the window openings onto caved-in roofs, mangled awnings, and charred debris piled at least six feet high.

Traffic was shut down along Liberty Avenue in both directions, and A train service was halted between Rockaway Boulevard and Lefferts Avenue early Sunday morning. Service resumed with delays just before 7 a.m., with southbound trains skipping 111 Street.

FDNY officials say the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Two people killed after a Beechcraft 60 Duke plane nose-dived, crashed and burned northeast of Duette, Florida


MANATEE Co., Fla. (WWSB) - A small Beechcraft 60 Duke plane crashed just north of State Road 62 in Duette on Saturday. There are no survivors, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The pilot and one passenger died in the crash at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Their identities have not been released. The plane departed from the Sarasota Bradenton Airport around 1:15 p.m.

The plane was found off State Route 37 just north of State Route 62 in a wooded area. The wreckage ignited a wildfire. SR 37 was closed most of the day as a result.

The NTSB has been notified and will be investigating the crash.

David Hayman saw the plane go down. "We just turned around and we saw the plane just nose diving, going straight down," he said. Next thing we knew, we heard that explosion right after. And I ran in to help, but there was nothing left of the wreckage."


Updated:Mar 04 2017 11:48PM EST

DUETTE (FOX 13) - A plane crashed, killing two people and sparking a wildfire in Manatee County Saturday afternoon.

Manatee County investigators say the plane crashed sometime around 1:30 p.m. in the area of Florida State Road 37 and Florida State Road 62.

The Hawker Beechcraft BE-6 took off from the Sarasota Bradenton Airport at 1:15 p.m., but did not file a flight plan. The twin-engine plane was leased from California, but officials could not release the tail number. 

  2 confirmed dead in Duette plane crash

Heavy smoke could be seen coming from the wooded area where the aircraft crashed and caught fire. Water tankers from Global Contracting are on scene, helping extinguish the flames.

The crash happened about one mile south of a Mosaic-owned property. About 30 acres had burned after the crash, but the fire was 100 percent contained as of 5:45 p.m., according to Manatee officials. Information about the number of people on board was not available. The FAA and NTSB will investigate the cause of the crash.


Type:Silhouette image of generic BE60 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Beechcraft 60 Duke
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Airplane damage:Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Manatee County, near Duette, FL -   United States of America
Phase:En route
Departure airport:Sarasota/Bradenton Int'I (KSRQ)
Destination airport:
The aircraft impacted wooded terrain northeast of Duette, Florida, and a post-impact fire ensued. The airplane was partially consumed by fire and the two occupants onboard were fatally injured.

The deadly 3-alarm fire that killed 5 people (4 of them children) in Warwick, Mass., was sparked by a wood stove in the kitchen.

WARWICK, Mass. — A grief-stricken grandmother who lost a daughter-in-law and four grandkids in a fast-moving, three-alarm fire that reduced the family’s secluded Warwick home to a smoldering pile of rubble is struggling to come to grips with the unimaginably tragic loss as the small, tight-knit western Massachusetts community rallies around the two survivors.

“Four children,” the children’s inconsolable paternal grandmother told the Herald through tears. “One of the children made it out — I really can’t say anything.”

At an emotional press conference yesterday, Warwick fire Chief Ron Gates fought back tears as he recalled racing to the family’s Richmond Road home early yesterday morning after receiving a frantic 911 call about 12:45 a.m. reporting that the three-story house was going up in flames.

“There was nothing that we could have done different,” Gates said, his voice breaking. “When we got on scene, the house was totally engulfed — we lost a mother and four children.”

The northern Franklin County town, which has less than 800 residents, has only a dozen volunteer firefighters, Gates said. At least 16 area fire departments helped battle the blaze.

“We’re a very tight bunch and obviously this is tough on all of us,” Gates said.

Town Coordinator David Young said town residents were still grappling with the shattering news.

“The community has suffered a great loss of life,” he said, “a huge blow to our spirit that we are only starting to realize.”

And though they’re still mourning the loss of five members of a well-liked and well-known family, Young said he’s sure the town will be there for the two survivors, a man and child.

“The way that we’re coming together to respond and mourn our loss is uplifting,” he said. “I’ve known them since they moved to town six or eight years ago.”

Both parents, Young said, served in local government.

Diana Tandy, who works at Town Hall, called the loss of life “heartbreaking.”

“I’m shocked,” Tandy said. “They were wonderful people ... It’s a tragic event.”

When firefighters first arrived on scene, Gates said the two people who escaped told them five of their family members were still trapped inside.
Although the lack of available fire hydrants, the ferocity of the fire and bone-chilling conditions made battling the blaze extremely difficult, Gates commended the fire crews from around the region who worked through the night in a desperate effort to locate survivors. The water they used to fight the fire, he said, was drawn from a source about a half-mile from the scene.

The fire, officials believe, was accidental and sparked by a wood stove in the kitchen.

The bodies of the victims, whose names and ages were not released last night, were recovered hours after the blaze was extinguished, authorities said. The surviving victims were taken to a hospital in Keene, N.H., with non-life-threatening injuries. The fire is being investigated by state and local fire officials along with the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office. 


The Latest: Mother, 4 children die in Massachusetts blaze

3/4/17 3:27 PM

WARWICK, Mass. — WARWICK, Mass. (AP — The Latest on a house fire that killed five people in Warwick, Massachusetts. (all times local):

3:25 p.m.

Officials say a mother and four children were killed when flames swept through their home in the small Massachusetts town of Warwick.

Two other members of the family escaped the fire, which broke in the single-family home around 12:45 a.m. Saturday.

The names of the victims were not immediately released.

An emotional town fire chief Ron Gates said at an afternoon news conference that the house was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived and there was little they could do to prevent the tragedy.

Officials said early indications were that the fire may have started in a wood stove in the kitchen.

The town of less than 800 residents has no fire hydrants and officials said firefighters had to draw water about a half mile from the scene.

12:30 p.m.

The Massachusetts fire marshal’s office says five people are unaccounted for following a blaze at a home in the town of Warwick.

Authorities say two family members escaped after the 3-alarm fire broke out in the single-family home on Richmond Road at about 12:45 a.m. Saturday.

The fire marshal said in a statement that five other people were unaccounted for.

Town Coordinator David Young told The Recorder of Greenfield that a mother and four children were missing.

Young said there was little left of the home after the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation and no other details were immediately released.

Warwick is a small town in Franklin County in northwestern Massachusetts.

Young said at least 16 area fire departments helped battle the early-morning blaze.


The Massachusetts fire marshal’s office says five people are unaccounted for following a blaze at a home in the town of Warwick.

Authorities say two family members escaped after the 3-alarm fire broke out in the single-family home on Richmond Road at about 12:45 a.m. Saturday.

The fire marshal said in a statement that five other people are unaccounted for.

The cause of the fire is under investigation and no other details were immediately released.

Warwick is a small town in Franklin County in northwestern Massachusetts.

CAPTURING MOTHER NATURE'S VALUABLE GIFT: Projects are underway California to utilize stormwater better, with several areas of Southern California already leading by example.

How California Can Make the Most of Its Rainfalls

Now that rain is finally falling, is California doing all it can to capture and conserve that water? Projects are underway to utilize stormwater better, with several areas of Southern California already leading by example. 

Written by Michael Levitin Published on Jan. 23, 2017 Read time Approx. 5 minutes

The Los Angeles River flows past the Atwater Village neighborhood during a rain storm in Los Angeles, California, on Jan. 12, 2017. The state is implementing programs to capture and use stormwater.AFP/Konrad Fiedler

The deluge that hit California this month may have eased some people’s concerns about the drought. But it also raised a new question: Is the state doing enough to capture all that excess stormwater for later use?

According to Annalisa Kihara, chief planner at the State Water Board’s Strategy to Optimize Resource Management of Storm Water unit (STORMS), the strategies for capturing and conserving rainwater are abundant, and numerous projects are underway. But changing the public’s and urban planners’ negative perception of stormwater – and budgeting for the sizable infrastructure improvements needed to meet ambitious water capture goals – remains a challenge.

“We designed our infrastructure in California to take that stormwater and send it out to the ocean as fast as possible, treating it as a hazard or waste,” said Kihara. Now STORMS, other state agencies and some cities are working to change that narrative. “It previously got folded into the sewer fee, so your taxpayer money is taking that stormwater and routing it away. [But] the drought has made us look at what sources of water we can depend on other than Sierra snowpack, and along with desalination and recycled water, what about stormwater? We want the public to look at it from a different perspective: less as waste, and more as a resource.”

Some farmers in the Central Valley are ahead of the game, already turning to innovative techniques for stormwater management, such as letting their fields flood over in winter to replenish underground aquifers rather than diverting or draining the runoff. But for municipalities, changing urban habits isn’t as simple or direct.

The State Water Resources Control Board received $200 million for the Storm Water Grant Program from Prop. 1, the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. STORMS produced a report last year laying out a 10-year vision and implementation strategy for stormwater capture. The plan focuses on 23 projects, nine of which are already underway, including developing watershed management guidelines and tools, eliminating barriers to stormwater capture and creating stormwater data systems. Now, after widespread flooding this month, cities may be feeling more impetus to speed up the programs.

So what does improved urban stormwater infrastructure look like? For starters, it means more low-impact development, using less asphalt and concrete that routes water away, and more ground space and porous materials – such as pervious concrete, asphalt and pavers – that slows runoff and allows it to sink into the ground. Use of cisterns and rain barrels is a practical, cheap way for homeowners to capture and store rainwater; another technique is to disconnect the downspout drain from the roof so rainwater doesn’t go directly into the drain but can filter out across a lawn or yard. In the realm of landscaping, bioretention basins are a great way to create depressions in the ground that let more water infiltrate down. 

Early Progress in Southern California 

Cars drive along Woodman Avenue in Panorama City, Calif., Jan. 7, 2016, beside a culvert where rainwater runoff is directed to a bioswale on the side of the street. (Michael Owen Baker, AP)

Early leadership in stormwater capture is coming mostly from Southern California, due to the region’s near-total reliance on water imports from the north and out of state. Santa Monica, for example, now requires stormwater permits for all new construction. The Elmer Avenue project, near Hollywood Burbank Airport, tackled the area’s chronic flooding problem by creating an advanced stormwater capture system, which not only employs catch basins and bioswales but also uses underground vaults to recharge the aquifer. Santa Barbara has installed pervious pavers in parking lots to increase its underground water supply.

Perhaps most impressive is the work being done in Orange County, where not only is stormwater being collected in infiltration ponds – large-scale lakes (unlined at the bottom) that allow water to permeate beneath – but also wastewater is being treated and recycled into the groundwater system. The Orange County Water District, working in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has reportedly captured more than 20,000 acre-feet (24.7 million cubic meters) of stormwater since Dec. 15. In particular, the Santa Margarita Water District has created basins designed to divert runoff in residential areas using inflatable dams, which send large amounts of water into the county’s basins before pumping it up to reservoirs.

Last summer, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power released its Stormwater Capture Master Plan, focusing on three large rainfall collection projects in the San Fernando Valley aimed at recharging the underground aquifer. “These storms are providing a lot more opportunity for stormwater capture than we’ve seen in the last five years,” said Deven Upadhyay, head of Waste Resource Management at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Metropolitan today offers residents $35 rebates on rain barrels and $250 or more on cisterns; in the year and a half since the incentive program started, it has processed 44,000 applications. “It’s a lot, it’s more than we thought we would get,” Upadhyay added, and “the people who install those barrels now are seeing the benefits.”

Not only that, 70 percent of people who bought rain barrels have reported that they followed up with other landscaping changes to address water capture and conservation elsewhere on their properties, which “suggests it’s having a positive impact on the way people are thinking about water use in general.” Metropolitan offers classes, both online and off, to teach people about different groundcover options for stormwater capture, from mulch to bioswales. 

Seeking a Broader Shift

Efforts like these will help drive STORMS’ goals, but in many cases cities need more guidance and help as they begin to shift their priorities toward better stormwater capture. “We had a lot of rain recently, and a lot of municipalities are now going to be looking at flooding areas where they want to address these issues, and collaborate with stormwater resource groups to create multibenefit projects,” said Kihara.

Stormwater capture efforts have been hampered by Prop. 218, known as the “Right to Vote on Taxes Act,” passed in 1996, which limited local governments’ ability to tax property owners but exempted water, sewer and garbage rates, which can be raised without taxpayer consent. This means when a city needs to raise fees to expand its wastewater treatment system, it can. But making infrastructure investments for better stormwater capture doesn’t fall within those exemptions. As a result, cities have a hard time raising fees from taxpayers directly, who see the expenditure as just one more tax.

Despite the barriers, stormwater capture is here to stay as California seeks to broaden its solutions in preparing for a drier future. Even if more robust capture and storage strategies were already in place, some water would inevitably be lost due to the severely heavy rains experienced of late. “I don’t want to create the picture that the amount of rain of the last couple of weeks is the norm,” said Kihara. “Even if Sonoma or Sacramento County were designed for stormwater capture and use, the amount we just received would surpass that.”

Except for a storm this weekend, dry weather will persist over much of California into the middle of March; then, another big storm will bring more rain/snow

Storm break for California to offer relief from flooding, mudslides into mid-March
By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
March 04, 2017, 1:56:42 PM EST

Except for a storm this weekend, dry weather will persist over much of California into the middle of March.

Heavy snow and high winds can impede travel over Donner Pass along Interstate 80 for a time this weekend. However, for much of Southern California, the only day where there may be some rain will be on Sunday.

"Some rain will move through Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego on Sunday," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark. "While this will not be a big storm, enough rain will fall to make streets slick."

The storm will produce periods of rain in Central and Northern California, for cities such as San Francisco, Sacramento and Redding. The rain will raise stream, river and reservoir levels once again.

"Any flooding that occurs in Northern California will pale in comparison to that of other storms this winter," Clark said.

Enough rain can fall to hinder repairs on the Oroville Dam Spillway, north of Sacramento, California, temporarily.

"The storm will also kick up strong wind gusts of 50-60 mph from the upper deserts of California and northern Arizona to Utah and Wyoming," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said. "This includes in Las Vegas, Nevada; St. George, Utah; and Flagstaff, Arizona."

"These winds could lead to tree damage, power outages and dangerous crosswinds for high-profile vehicles. Blowing dust could also get kicked up in the deserts."

Outside of the storm this weekend, the vast majority of the state will be free from rain into next weekend.

"Most storms will take an path across the northwestern United States through next week," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

It's normal for the amount of rain and mountain snow to begin to diminish across California during March. For example, in San Bernardino, average rainfall during February, March and April is 2.50 inches, 1.00 inch and 0.25 of an inch respectively.

"We have to watch for another big storm, around March 15-17, that may roll in from the Pacific over Central California," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

From Dec. 1 to Feb. 28, rainfall over much of the state has been 150 to 200 percent of average. In the Sierra Nevada, the amount of precipitation has been 200 to 400 percent of average (2x to 4x of average).

In lieu of a big, warm storm, much of the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada will be released during the spring and summer as the seasonal thaw progresses to higher elevations.

However, any time there is an excessive amount of snow on the ground and a storm comes along with heavy rain and warmth, there is a risk of flooding.

"Other than the ongoing benefits from the storms, the flooding risk will remain a concern moving forward over the next couple of months before the dry season takes hold," Pastelok said.

The northern half of California is no longer in the grips of a drought nor is it abnormally dry, according to the United States Drought Monitor. About 25 percent of the state, all in the southern half, remains in some sort of long-term dryness.The area of severe long-term drought has shrunk to about 4 percent of the state, compared to 83 percent one year ago. The areas where long-term drought lingers encompasses parts of Imperial, Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties

A short in an electrical room caused the fire under the tracks at the Walnut Creek Station; hundreds of BART passengers had to be evacuated

Hundreds of BART passengers had to be evacuated from a train after a fire broke out under the tracks at the Walnut Creek Station Saturday evening. (KGO-TV)

Updated 58 mins ago
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of BART passengers had to be evacuated from a train after a fire broke out under the tracks at the Walnut Creek Station Saturday evening.

Flames and smoke could be seen below the track area at the station around 6 p.m., and service in the area was halted.

The problem was first reported around 5:50 p.m.

The fire was affecting service along the entire Pittsburg/Bay Point line. No injuries were immediately reported.

A passenger on the train told ABC7 that some passengers were missing flights out of SFO due to the delay. He also said that children needing to use the restroom were ushered into an empty car that was turned into a makeshift bathroom.

Passengers were being safely evacuated from the train, which did not appear to suffer any damage from the fire.

The Contra Costa Fire Department said a short in an electrical room caused the fire. Once the power was cut, no water was needed.