Pittsburg

Brush fire burns 40 acres, challenges crews

A three-alarm vegetation fire burned some 40 acres near the Delta shore Thursday afternoon, challenging fire crews, who worked to get at flames through thick mud and marshland.

The fire was reported about 3:15 p.m. near West 10th Street and Willow Pass Road. The black smoke from the blaze could be seen from miles away, in Concord and Martinez.

No injuries were reported, and no structures were threatened, though fire officials said the flames did burn near several towers carrying high-tension power lines.

PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi said there were no power outages related to the fire.

The fire was contained by 7 p.m., Contra Costa Fire District Inspector George Laing said.

The blaze was "particularly difficult" because of its location in marshland, Laing said. One firefighter sunk into mud past his knees as he tried to extinguish the flames.

Firefighters from the East Bay Regional Park District used their off-road fire truck to assist with the blaze, and a CalFire helicopter dropped mud to douse the flames.

-- Paul Burgarino and Katie Nelson, Staff

Pleasanton

Construction crew finds Ohlone remains

Earth movers for an apartment project have discovered American Indian remains on the site, another sign of the ancient Ohlone settlements in the East Bay.

Archaeological experts have been called to the site along the Interstate 680 corridor to catalog finds. Special digging measures have been implemented to avoid damage to remains and artifacts.

"Sites like this used to get mowed over, but now measures are being taken to protect their integrity," said Ramona Garibay, an Ohlone descendant and the appointed site monitor.

The undisclosed site is part of what once was a large village.

Garibay said she will be consulted about the reburial plan for the remains. In cases such as this, remains are reburied on the property in a place that won't be disturbed, or sometimes at another location.

Once the remains were found, she said, the developers followed the appropriate protocol to contact the California Native American Heritage Commission, which appoints a most likely descendant to consult with the landowner.

-- Denis Cuff, Staff

PLEASANT HILL

School board seeks applicants for seat

The Contra Costa County Board of Education is seeking applicants to fill a vacancy created by the death of Trustee Ellen Elster.

Trustees voted Wednesday to appoint someone to serve the rest of Elster's term, which expires in November, rather than hold a special election.

Applications will be accepted through April 28 from residents of the Central County area represented by Elster.

The board will hold public interviews and make its provisional appointment May 7.

Those interested in applying can call 925-942-3407.

-- Theresa Harrington, Staff

Martinez

Man dies in custody hours after he's jailed

A man who told authorities that he wanted to hurt himself died Thursday morning, hours after being booked into County Jail in Martinez, a Contra Costa Sheriff's Office spokesman said.

The 24-year-old, whose identity and hometown were not released pending notification of his relatives, was booked into the facility about 1 a.m. after police arrested him on an outstanding warrant and suspicion of resisting arrest, sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said.

During a routine medical screening, the man made statements about wanting to harm himself and was put into a safety cell and checked regularly by deputies, Lee said.

One of the deputies found the man unresponsive about 7:35 a.m. Medical staff at the jail immediately tried to revive him. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital, Lee said.

The Sheriff's Office and the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office are investigating the death.

-- Rick Hurd, Staff

Oakland

Ex-lab worker gets 10 years for child porn

A former computer support worker for the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday for downloading child pornography onto his work computer.

Richmond resident David Busby, 61, a registered sex offender, was convicted of possessing and accessing with the intent to view child pornography in September, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. In April 2010, a network security analyst at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, which is affiliated with the Berkeley Lab, detected Internet traffic that appeared to be child pornography.

Forensic examiners found about 1,400 deleted child pornography images on Busby's computer.

At trial, Busby's lawyers said that he had accidentally downloaded the images while attempting to access legal child modeling sites. He was convicted after a three-day trial.

-- Staff