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Help Wanted: Fire Fighters

 September 3, 2021 at 5:01 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Friday, September 3rd. >>>> California Fire fighters in short supply More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines…. ###### UC San Diego health officials are raising concerns about the possibility of a twin-demic this fall – surges in both covid-19 and flu at the same time. Dr. Christopher Longhurst (long-herst) is the associate chief medical officer for UC San diego. “it’s unlikely we’re ever going to lockdown and distance the way that we did last year. on the other hand, if we get to a point where we have indoor masking mandates again, that can help us potentially stave off a potential twin-demic.” And he encourages everyone who is eligible to get the covid and flu vaccines. ####### State and federal officials are investigating an attempted financial aid scam at state community colleges. It involves more than 65-thousand fake applications across California by people claiming to be students, seeking money to attend community college. In San Diego County… Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College District officials have identified 200 potential fake students who applied for financial aid. Many of the online scammers were actually believed to be BOTS . ########### A pair of orphaned bear cubs are in the care of the San Diego Humane Society's Ramona Wildlife Center. The cubs are estimated to be six months old.. According to SDHS, the cubs were captured for their own benefit as well as for public safety reasons when they wandered too close to people. Project Wildlife will be rehabilitating the cubs to be able to go back into the wild when they’re old enough to survive on their own. ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. Just when they are needed most, California and the US forest service are experiencing a shortage of firefighters. KPBS North county reporter Tania Thorne looked into some of the reasons why. Rick Vogt, the city of Escondido fire chief, says like many industries, fire departments are experiencing staffing shortages. “A lot of people think that there's thousands of people standing in line to get jobs as paramedics and firefighters. That might've been true 20 -25 years ago but boy have we seen a change.” Vogt says the pandemic put a pause on the world, including school and internship opportunities. That cut off access to new firefighters. Even so, a state exemption allowed Palomar College Firefighter Academy to operate through the pandemic. Dave Miller, the program director, says classes have been full. “We have a lot of people in the educational pipeline, they're just not in a position to be hired on yet.” Miller says many graduates move north of San Diego county, where there are fewer 's less job requirements and better pay. TT KPBS News ########## Insurance companies are dropping more homeowner policies in San Diego County because of the risk of wildfire. And inewsource reporter Camille von Kaenel explains it’s not happening in only rural communities. CAMILLE: The biggest jumps took place in East County, places like Poway and Jamul. But neighborhoods in the city of San Diego also experienced the problem, including Scripps Ranch and Clairemont. Staci Pappazi (paw PAWsey) is an independent insurance agent who said it’s been more difficult to find policies for city residents living near open space. PAPPAZI: We can clearly Google Earth it and we can say, oh yep. This home’s right next to Cowles Mountain, we can see why this company no longer wants it because of the way they're tightening down on their brush. (00:10) You can check how many policies insurers are dropping in your neighborhood at inewsource dot org. inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS. ########## A number of families from San Diego’s east county were stuck in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over last month. Now some are speaking out following their recent escape, and they’re talking about how the Cajon valley school district helped advocate for their safe return. KPBS reporter Alexandra Rangel has more from El Cajon. “Why you guys leave Afghanistan, why don't you stay here with us.” Those were the interrogations the Taliban asked Mohammad Faizi (PHI-zee) as he tried to cross the Taliban gate to go to the airport with his wife and five children in hand. His family is one of the 8 families from Cajon Valley School District that traveled to Afghanistan over summer break. After being stranded there following the Taliban's takeover the eight families seeked help from the school district and Congressman Darrell Issa’s Office to come back home. Mohammad Faizi , Afghan Refugee “Let’s see our family because this will be the last chance we get.” PHI-zee wasn’t expecting the Taliban to enter Kabul until August thirty first, the day u-s troops were set to evacuate. Things quickly turned into a nightmare. Although PHI-zee and his family made it back home, The Cajon Valley school district says three of their students are still in Afghanistan and need help. On Thursday Congressman Issa met with the families he helped bring back and made a call to action. He asked the U-S to expedite the process for Afghan refugees. He says hundreds of American citizens and SIV holders remain to be helped. Darrell Issa , (R) 5OTH Congressional District “We have a responsibility having failed to give them a secular democracy that lasted.” The Cajon Valley School district superintendent says they’re hoping to soon be reunited with the three students that are still in Afghanistan. The families that made it back are grateful, but they ask that the door not be closed to their family and friends at risk. “Famuli” not sure of the name “Their life is in danger they are not staying at one home every night they are moving to diff places.” “There is going to be chaos coming.” “Before these things start we have to evacuate them as soon as possible.” And that reporting from KPBS’ Alexandra Rangel. ######### While the U.S. asylum system continues to face an enormous backlog of cases, Mexico is also seeing a surge. In recent years, the number of people seeking asylum in Mexico has soared. From the fronteras desk in hermosillo, kjzz’s kendal blust reports the country has now set a new record for asylum applications. BLUST: In August, Mexico received more than 13,000 asylum applications, according to Andrés Ramírez, the head of Mexico’s refugee commission.That pushes the total number of people seeking refuge in Mexico in 20-21 to more than 77,000, surpassing the country’s annual record for asylum applications in just the first eight months of this year.In 2019, Mexico hit a record high of more than 70,000 asylum applications. Numbers dropped slightly last year during the pandemic, but are clearly back on an upward trend.Recent data show people fleeing Honduras make up the greatest portion of those asking for refuge, followed by asylum seekers from Haiti, Cuba and El Salvador. And that was Kendal Blust reporting from Hermosillo ########## Coming up.... Staff Sergeant Ryan C. Knauss was the last of the 13 U.S. service members to die after the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport. “And I just saw the uniforms and I just knew. I think I screamed. They asked, they were like, are you Alena Knauss? And I was like….ya...I am” That’s next, just after the break The last of the 13 US service members to die after the suicide bombing in Afghanistan was Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss [Kuh-NOW-ss]. He was a 23-year-old special operations soldier from Tennessee who was based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His widow, Alena , talked with Jay Price of the American Homefront Project. PRICE: SHE was the Army brat, living in various base towns as her dad transferred around. But he was the one who had wanted to be in the military since he was in elementary school. KNAUSS: He never saw anything else for himself. ... He was one of those people that anything he wanted to do, he could have done, he was brilliant. ...But he just wanted to serve his country… it’s all he wanted, he thought that was the best way he could help people. PRICE: Ryan Knauss had done a nine-month tour in Afghanistan earlier and seen combat, but mostly he mentored Afghan troops. That was the main US mission by that stage of the war. It was much like deployments US forces had done for two decades. This one was different though. It was all about helping American civilians and Afghan refugees get out. KNAUSS: That's why he was where he was at the time ...because these people needed the help. That was their only hope. PRICE: The couple met working together at a pizza parlor when they were 15 years old, and began dating a couple of years later. His big thing, she says, was solving problems. KNAUSS: He just was a fixer. And it bled over into his work life, his love life. I mean, everything. He just had a magic touch, like he could fix anything. PRICE: She means heads and hearts. People. KNAUSS: , it was funny, because he couldn't fix anything, like, with his hands. Handy-wise, that was me. But mentally, he had always been like, very interested in psychology. .. If you were the exact opposite of him, he would sit and talk to you for hours to figure out why you've thought the way you did. PRICE: She handled THIS deployment as she often did when he was gone on a mission: She tackled a home improvement project. This time, tiling a hallway, laundry room and bathroom, trying to finish before he returned. Alena had decided to spell out her and Ryan’s initials in small black tiles. KNAUSS: And I was like, This is gonna be so cheesy, and he's gonna hate this, but I put just “A” and “R” and the year. PRICE: She had those black tiles in her hand when the knock on the door came. KNAUSS: I just saw the uniforms and I just knew, I think I screamed…they asked, they were like, are you? Alena Knauss? And I was like, Yeah, I am. PRICE: She couldn’t sleep, so she finished the initials at least, sobbing as she went.. Somehow it seemed important, even though she already knew she’ll be selling the house. And the future they were mapping out … was suddenly gone. KNAUSS: My sister-in-law and I had been at TJ Maxx that morning. … and we always wind up in the baby section. There was this little pink cardigan and I was just obsessed with it. ...One of the last things I said to him on a on a Facetime call was you know, when you get back we need to be in baby mode. PRICE: Instead of getting him home for baby mode, she flew to Dover to meet the C-17 that carried his body and those of the other 12 service members killed by the blast, The other families of the fallen joined her. So did President Biden, who had to lean over to talk because she just couldn’t stand up. Alena Knauss said her husband had been a history buff, and would have wanted to be remembered for helping others, for serving his country, ... and as a part of history. He is now. According to a Pentagon spokesperson, Knauss didn’t die immediately, but only later as doctors tried to save him. He may be the last American service member killed in the war. KNAUSS: He was helping people, and if he was the last, I would be grateful that no one else would ever feel what I'm feeling. And to know that , yes I'm in shambles and I'm hurting - but to know that no mother, father, wife, brother sister ever has to feel such emptiness. I would be grateful to know he was the last. PRICE: The last of more than 2,400 U.S. service members who were killed in the war, along with more than 100,000 Afghan troops and civilians. I’m Jay Price, reporting. This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Wildfires are burning across California while local fire departments are facing a shortage in recruits for firefighter positions. Meanwhile, local Afghan families are speaking out about their recent escape from Afghanistan. Also, Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss died from injuries suffered in the Kabul Airport bombing. He was likely the final U.S. service member to die in a war that killed more than 2,400.