Fire in Mohave Valley deemed arson

An early morning fire in Mohave Valley destroyed the Christ's Church. Investigators say it was arson as there is evidence of a break-in.

MOHAVE VALLEY, ARIZ.– A fire at a church this morning in the 8000 block of Highway 95 has been deemed arson and now investigators are looking for the culprits.

Crews with the Mohave Valley Fire Department were dispatched to the fire at the Christ’s Church at 4:35 a.m., (MST). When they arrived, they found flames shooting out the front door of what used to be the Mohave County library, just south of the post office in Mohave Valley. It was turned into a church after the library was relocated to Fort Mohave.

No one was inside the church at the time of the blaze.

Mohave County Sheriff’s detectives were also called to the scene. They and investigators with the fire department quickly determined the fire was intentionally set. Deputies discovered that someone had forced their way into the church.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office says that the incident does not appear to be a hate crime, but it remains under investigation.

Anyone with information regarding this morning’s fire in Mohave Valley or the suspects involved should contact the sheriff’s office at (928) 753-0753 or Mohave Silent Witness at (928) 753-1234. Silent Witness has offered a reward up to $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for today’s fire.

Alcohol suspected in BHC accident

The view from inside Montana Wash Sunday night shows a vehicle that rolled off the Bullhead Parkway. The 36-year old driver was airlifted to a Las Vegas hospital. Alcohol is suspected.

BULLHEAD CITY,ARIZ.–Alcohol is believed to have played a roll in a one-vehicle traffic accident Sunday night that closed part of the Bullhead Parkway as emergency crews worked to rescue the driver. The accident took place at around 10:30 p.m., near the entrance to the Laredo Village neighborhood. Investigators say that Rick Jason Blakeman, 36, of BullheadCity, struck a cable utility box and street sign before leaving the west side of the pavement and down the embankment into Montana Wash.

According to a Bullhead City Police Department spokesperson, Blakeman was southbound in his white 1989 Jeep, near Hillview Drive. Investigators believe Blakeman’s Jeep went airborne before crashing into the wash. Blakeman was not wearing his seat belt, which is required by Arizona state law.

Once freed from the wreckage, Blakeman was taken to Western Arizona Regional Medical Center with several fractures to his face and other injuries. He was eventually airlifted to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas in serious condition. His injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

Detectives say that evidence at the scene suggests that alcohol may have been a contributing factor in the crash.

Hearing for BHC man accused of attempted murder in Laughlin is postponed

LAUGHLIN, NEV.– The preliminary hearing for a Bullhead City man accused of attempting to kill the mother of his child twice last year has been postponed for two weeks. The prosecuting attorney with the Clark County District Attorney’s office told Laughlin Justice of the Peace Tim Atkins this morning that the main victim in the case was not available to testify against Dusty Dutton, 26, who attended today’s hearing via videoconference from the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas.
“Her son is in surgery. It’s something that could not have been rescheduled,” Deputy District Attorney Lindsey Moors said in court today. “She is the sole provider of her son and could not leave him.”
“I cannot prove my case without her,” Moors continued.
Judge Atkins granted the state’s motion for a continuance and rescheduled the preliminary hearing– which will determine if there is enough evidence to send the case to trial in Clark County District Court– for Feb. 5.
There are actually two criminal cases pending against Dutton, both revolve around the same victims, but were initiated by two separate domestic violence incidents at the Riverwood Apartment Complex in Laughlin.
Dutton was first arrested by Metro on Sept. 15, 2014. That incident prompted the DA’s office to charge Dutton with attempted murder with a deadly weapon, two counts of battery involving strangulation, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment with a deadly weapon and child abuse.
After being released from custody in that case, Dutton failed to show up for several court hearings and remained at large until December when he revisited the victim. He was arrested by Metro again on Dec. 27. According to police, he pushed his way into the victim’s apartment, dragged his ex-girlfriend around the apartment– looking for ‘the other man’ he thought she was seeing. Ultimately, he found no one other than the small child the couple have in common.
Metro investigators say that Dutton beat and punched his victim repeatedly and at one point pulled a knife and swung it at her but struck a wall instead of the victim.
Dutton has remained incarcerated since his December arrest.

Local Burro Population tabbed at 1,600, three times more than what BLM says this area can sustain.

BULLHEAD CITY, ARIZ.– An exploding burro population is apparently to blame for the more frequent sightings of the hoofed animals on the Bullhead Parkway and Highway 68 in recent months. Now the BLM has initiated an environmental assessment to address the current population, determine an appropriate management level and offer suggestions on what to do with the excess burros.
The BLM oversees the Black Mountain Herd Management Area (BMHMA), which includes 1.1 million acres of land in Mohave County, stretching from Hoover Dam to Topock. Last year, the U.S. Geological Survey, at the behest of the BLM, measured the burro population in the BMHMA to be approximately 1,600 animals. That is more than three times the ‘appropriate management level’ that the BLM established in 1996 as part of the Black Mountain Ecosystem Plan. That plan suggests the BMHMA has enough natural resources to sustain a burro population of 478.
Last year, Bullhead City officials reached out to the BLM for assistance in managing wild burros who were starting to make their homes closer to the city, especially along the Bullhead Parkway and Highway 68. Several burros were struck and killed by unsuspecting motorists who travel the parkway and Highway 68 at relatively high speeds.
In a letter to the city this month, the BLM announces its plan to initiate an environmental assessment. Their initial stages have already revealed some considerations that will be studied as part of the assessment, but officials admit there has already been several negative impacts due to the burro population explosion.
“Vegetation utilization data at some key study sites indicates heavy to severe utilization and resource damage,” BLM Field Manager Ruben A. Sanchez wrote. “There have been no trails of any type of fertility control on wild burros managed by the BLM. With current limitations on holding space, the BLM anticipates implementing trials with wild burros as funding allows.”
Bullhead City manager Toby Cotter alerted city councilmembers of the BLM’s response and plans for the burro interactions in the city.
“This is an issue of pretty significant concern to many in our community,” Cotter said. “We will continue to express our concerns about traffic, especially on the Parkway and Highway 68.”
Cotter, along with former mayor Jack Hakim, met with BLM officials several times last year to address the burro’s interaction with humans in Bullhead City. Signs were placed along both roadways in an effort to alert motorists to the potential of having burros on the pavement. The most likely times for human interaction have always been before sunrise or just after sunset.
The BMHMA is home to the largest herd of wild and free-roaming burros in the United States. They have thrived in the Tri-State area since the 1860s when they were introduced to the area by miners.

Fire Destroys Fort Mohave Mobile Home

A double-wide mobile home in the 1600 block of Luna Media in Ft. Mohave was destroyed by fire Monday night.

FORT MOHAVE, ARIZ.– A double-wide mobile home in the Tierra Grande neighborhood of Fort Mohave was destroyed by fire this evening. One firefighter sustained minor injuries when a small explosion sent shrapnel into his face. Battalion Chief Jody Hall described the injuries as ‘non-life threatening.’
Dispatchers received the call of a structure fire at a residence in the 1600 block of Luna Media shortly before 5:30 p.m. No one was home at the time of the blaze. Firefighters with the Fort Mojave Mesa Fire Department were the first on scene and, upon arrival, reported that flames had engulfed the entire structure. They took a defensive posture to keep the fire from spreading to neighboring houses.
Additional crews and engines from the Mohave Valley and Bullhead City Fire Departments were also called out to assist in the firefighting effort. Hall said, it took firefighters approximately 20 minutes to get the fire under control.
The Fort Mojave fire marshal was on scene after the blaze was doused to look for clues as to how the fire started. At this time, it is too early to tell what may have ignited the blaze.
Hall said, the mobile home, an attached garage and its contents, including a vehicle were all destroyed by the fire.

Searchlight Has Nevada’s Highest Gas Prices

SEARCHLIGHT, NV– The owner of a small convenience store in this town stuck between Las Vegas and Laughlin has the dubious distinction of having the highest gas prices in the State of Nevada, but they’re taking it all in stride, and claim to be getting solid support from locals.
“We don’t sell alot of gas,” said Casey McCubbin, who has owned the Searchlight Boat and RV Storage for the last 10 years. “When we last bought our gas it was while prices were still very high and we can’t afford to lower them now.”
The Searchlight Boat and RV Storage has a strangle-hold on the number one position for highest gas prices in Nevada. Regular unleaded at the McCubbin’s convenience store, which is about a quarter-mile east of U.S. Highway 95 on the way to Cottonwood Cove, sells for $3.40 a gallon. That is more than 30 cents higher than the next highest gas price in Nevada, which is at a station along the south shore of Lake Tahoe, according to gasbuddy.com.
McCubbin says that her business is more centered on the convenience store and the storage facility, which is quite busy in the summer time.
“We’re the gateway to Lake Mohave,” she said. “The summer time is really our best time of year.”
Although gas prices in Las Vegas have fallen below $2.00, and those in Laughlin hover around $2.50, and continue downward, don’t expect any changes in Searchlight.
“I suspect we won’t have to buy any gas (from a wholesaler) again until April,” McCubbin predicted. She’s also convinced the low gas prices that motorists are finding around the country currently won’t continue much longer. Nonetheless, she would lower her prices if she could afford it.
“Thankfully, the locals here in Searchlight have been very supportive,” she said. “They keep buying gas from us even though they could get it for cheaper.”
“People keep coming here because we have the best customer service,” she added.

BHC Mayor and Vice Mayor Disagree on funding priority for roads

BULLHEAD CITY, ARIZ.– The City of Bullhead City has built a small savings over the past year– roughly $1.2 million– and administrators are suggesting it could be used to improve streets, but its not enough to do much more than the most basic of maintenance. City councilmembers offered their opinions at a special workshop meeting on Tuesday, and there are competing interests.
Mayor Tom Brady is pushing his colleagues to spend upwards of $2.0 million a year to “micro-seal” every street in Bullhead City over the next ten years, while Vice Mayor Jerry Duvall believes there are more issues to address than just roads.
City manager Toby Cotter and Public Works Director Pawan Agrawal gave councilmembers an overview of their proposal, which would spend approximately $3.5 million dollars over the next three years to address maintenance issues on roads mainly in the Riviera and Holiday Shores neighborhoods. There are several types of maintenance fixes under consideration from chip sealing to micro-sealing– each offering their own unique fix, but at a varying cost.
Brady wants to set aside more money for road repairs. He said even the most basic maintenance requires a $2.0 million dollar investment annually. Fearing the city is only falling further behind, Brady suggested the city has been waiting too long to commit to road repairs.
“We should be spending a minimum of $2.0 million a year on our roads just to get by,” Brady said. “I don’t think we can just say let’s spend $1.4 million this year and see how much we have available next year.”
Brady’s ongoing push for additional funding for road repairs was challenged directly by Duvall, who suggested that road repairs should not monopolize the city’s finances.
“I know our roads are in horrendous shape, and I know we need the money to repair our roads, but we shouldn’t look at this with tunnel vision,” Duvall said. “This community has more items to deal with that just roads.”
The vice mayor listed other community concerns as examples of other priorities that should be addressed with a portion of the money that was saved last year. He said there are issues with blight, homelessness, and public safety that should be considered.
No other councilmembers offered an opinion during the workshop.
After the meeting, Agrawal said, since there was no consensus among councilmembers, his staff will move forward with bidding out the three-year, neighborhood street improvement projects each with varying maintenance and paving fixes for the city council to consider.

Laughlin records First Ever Measurable Snowfall

2014 New Year's Eve Winter Wonderland - Laughlin, Nevada

LAUGHLIN, NEV.– New Year’s Eve 2014. Remember that day. It will go down as the first official day that the National Weather Service has ever recorded measurable snowfall in this town on the banks of the Colorado River. The weather service in Las Vegas has been ‘officially’ keeping track of Laughlin weather since 1977.

Snow began falling in Laughlin shortly after 4 a.m. (PST) and has remained steady the entire day, turning the Tri-State area into an unusually white winter wonderland. Like all things, however, the snow will not keep falling. It is expected to end by early this evening as the winter storm moves to the northeast.

While the NWS was predicting the winter storm to produce snow in southern Nevada and northern Arizona, their models showed the snow level would drop no lower than 2,000 feet– expecting it to only provide a ring of snow along the mountains around the Colorado River valley, but nothing in the valley itself.

Their models were wrong.

Meteorologists have been caught off guard by all the snow falling in Laughlin, Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City, but they have a good explanation.

“We certainly didn’t expect that,” said NWS meteorologist Stan Czyzyk. “It’s quite a bit colder than we projected.”

Czyzyk said, a combination of already dry air and extremely high winds from the north, helped lower the ground temperature to accommodate the snow. The ground and the air above it has to be at or below 32 degrees for snow to fall.

“We’ve had snow fall in Laughlin in the past, but nothing measurable,” he said. “It never stuck to the ground because there was always too much moisture.”

“It was kind of a double whammy for you guys,” he continued, “but looking at the photos from Facebook, I think everyone down there is enjoying the snow.”

Czyzyk said, he and others on the NWS staff in Las Vegas have poured over years of data to determine when the last measureable snowfall was recorded in Laughlin. As it turns out, there has never before been a storm that produced measurable snowfall in Laughlin in the 37 years the National Weather Service has been keeping records on Laughlin.

The unexpected snowfall has created some dangerous conditions for motorists. As you might expect, most Bullhead City and Laughlin residents are a little rusty on their winter weather driving skills. There have been several fender benders reported by local agencies.

The California Highway Patrol closed U.S. 95, north to the Nevada state line.

Las Vegas Metro in Laughlin reports a lot of accidents in and around town. Since so many officers travel to and from Las Vegas, Metro closed its substation in Laughlin at 1 p.m. so that employees could get back home safely before driving conditions get worse.

Highway 68 was closed just east of the Bullhead City limits until the snow stops falling.

100mph Chase Ends in a Crash on Needles Highway

NEEDLES, CALIF.– Deputies with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department were led on a high speed chase Sunday afternoon that ended in a traffic accident south of the Nevada state line. The driver was airlifted from the scene to a local hospital. His name has not been released.

It all started at around 3:30 (PST) when sheriff’s dispatchers received a 911 call of a subject wielding a bat near a store in Needles. When deputies from the Colorado River station arrived, the suspect fled the scene in a vehicle and refused to yield to pursing deputies who were attempting to conduct a traffic stop, according to Cpl. Randy Naquin, spokesman for the sheriff’s department.

The pursuit, which reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour at times, ended when the suspect lost control of his vehicle and crashed while travelling north on Needles Highway, near River Road. San Bernardino County Fire Department paramedics stabilized him for air transport to a local hospital.

The sheriff’s office closed Needles Highway for about an hour as deputies conducted their investigation and cleared the scene.

The suspect will be charged with felony evading once he’s released from the hospital.

BHC Man Again Faces Attempted Murder Charges in Nevada

LAUGHLIN, NEV.– A Bullhead City man faces Attempted Murder charges following another encounter with an ex-girlfriend at the Riverwood Apartment Complex on Saturday. It was not the first time that Dusty J. Dutton, 26, has been arrested by Las Vegas Metro police in Laughlin this year regarding his often-rocky relationship with his ex-girlfriend, who is the mother of one of his children.

Officers from the Laughlin substation were dispatched to the apartment complex at 7:58 a.m. According to the victim, Dutton started banging on her front door. When she opened the door, he reportedly forced his way in and began beating and punching her. Dutton was reportedly upset because he suspected his ex-girlfriend was involved in another relationship and dragged her through the apartment by the hair in search of another person. There was no one else in the apartment other than her children.

“At one point the suspect pulled a knife out and was swinging toward the victim and stuck the knife into the wall,” said Lt. John Healy, commander of the Laughlin substation. “The knife the victim described was located on Dutton when police took him into custody.”

Dutton left the apartment before police arrived. They caught him as he was attempting to leave the complex.

He was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on one count each of Burglary and Attempted Murder. He was also found to be wanted out several outstanding warrants from Laughlin Justice Court and Clark County District Court.

The warrants from Laughlin Justice Court stem from a similar incident involving his ex-girlfriend earlier this year. From that incident, the Clark County District Attorney’s office charged Dutton with Attempted Murder with a Deadly Weapon, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Burglary, two counts of Domestic Battery by Strangulation, False Imprisonment and Child Abuse.

The warrant from district court was issued on Nov. 17 when Dutton failed to show up for sentencing on a charge of Coercion related to yet another run-in with Metro in Laughlin back in June. He had entered a guilty plea as part of an agreement, but never showed up for sentencing.

Dutton is scheduled to be arraigned on all charges tomorrow.