Vegetation fire burns 15 acres
SANTA YNEZ — A fast-moving brush fire broke out Friday afternoon along Highway 101 just north of State Route 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley, authorities said.
The Divide Fire was reported at 12:50 p.m. in the center divide of the 101. The blaze quickly jumped to the northbound side of the 101, prompting a highway closure at State Route 246 near Buellton, according to authorities.
Around 1:20 p.m., a second alarm was called as four air tankers and two helicopters were ordered to respond to the scene. All air apparatus was canceled by 1:50 p.m. and the fire was held at 15 acres.
The blaze had the potential to burn 100 acres, said Capt. Daniel Bertucelli, spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
No structures were threatened and no injuries were reported. Crews remained on scene for a time conducting mop up.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
— Mitchell White
Former music teacher pleads guilty to porn charges
VENTURA — A former traveling music teacher who contracted with a number of Southern California school districts pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal child pornography charge.
John Edward Zeretzke, 61, of Ventura, appeared by video conference Los Angeles federal court and pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
He previously pleaded guilty in Orange County Superior Court to six state counts of committing lewd acts or lascivious acts with minors under the age of 14. According to his plea agreement, from December 2016 to February 2017, Mr. Zeretzke used a computer and the internet to communicate with a female minor and coerced her into producing child pornography. The victim did not live in California at the time, authorities said.
Mr. Zeretzke is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 3 and he will be facing a minimum of 15 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. He previously was sentenced to 18 years in state prison and federal prosecutors are recommending an 18-year federal prison sentence that will run concurrently with his state prison sentence.
According to media reports, a grand jury transcript revealed Mr. Zeretzke allegedly recorded himself ejaculating into flutes that he gave to five elementary school students in Costa Mesa and Castaic.
In 2009, he founded Flutes Across the World, a charitable organization that taught students to make flutes out of PVC pipes. In 2016, Mr. Zeretzke took the program to the Circle V Ranch camp in Santa Barbara, though none of the charges involved Santa Barbara County children.
— Mitchell White
Distressed hiker rescued
SANTA BARBARA — A hiker suffering from heat-related dehydration was airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Friday after falling ill near Cathedral Peak above Tunnel Trail in the Mission Canyon area of Santa Barbara, authorities said.
Santa Barbara County Fire Department crews were dispatched to the area around 2:45 p.m. A county Air Support helicopter with a hoist rescue team on board also responded, as did the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue team. Crews made access to the patient, who was hoisted onto the helicopter and transported for treatment, said Capt. Daniel Bertucelli, fire spokesman.
Temperatures in the area were around 100 degrees. With heat warnings and advisories in place this weekend, authorities are reminding those who are planning weekend trips to continually hydrate and limit their outdoor exposure.
— Mitchell White