News & Views

Deadly mudslides in Southern California

Updated 7:00 PM ET, Thu January 11, 2018

Emergency personnel carry a woman from a collapsed house after a mudslide in Montecito on Tuesday, January 9.

January 9, 2018 – U.S. – Monteciti, California, U.S. – A woman is rescued from a collapsed house by Long Beach Fire Department firefighters on Hot Springs Road in Montecito. Areas that had been roadways, driveways, and homes, are now unrecognizable due to the large amount of mud and debris flows. At least 17 people died and 8 are still missing, as thousands fled their homes in Southern California as a powerful rainstorm triggered flash floods and mudslides on slopes where a series of intense wildfires had burned off protective vegetation last month.(Credit Image: ?? Santa Barbara News-Press via ZUMA Wire) (Newscom TagID: zumaamericasnineteen764901.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

A member of the Long Beach search and rescue team looks for survivors in a car in Montecito on January 9.

A member of the Long Beach Search and Rescue team looks for survivors in a car in Montecito, Calif. on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. Several homes were swept away before dawn Tuesday when mud and debris roared into neighborhoods in Montecito from hillsides stripped of vegetation during a recent wildfire.

An aerial view of Montecito, California, shows mudflow and debris on Wednesday, January 10. Heavy rains unleashed deadly mudslides Tuesday that damaged or swept away dozens of homes in Southern California.

This aerial photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department shows mudflow and damage to homes in Montecito, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Anxious family members awaited word on loved ones Wednesday as

A damaged home is seen in Montecito on January 10.

A damaged home is shown in Montecito, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Dozens of homes were swept away or heavily damaged and several people were killed Tuesday as downpours sent mud and boulders roaring down hills stripped of vegetation by a gigantic wildfire that raged in Southern California last month. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Part of a structure sits in a tree after being knocked off its foundation by a Montecito mudslide on January 10.

MONTECITO, CA – JANUARY 10: Part of structure sits in a tree after being knocked off its foundation by a mudslide on January 10, 2018 in Montecito, California. 15 people have died and hundreds are still stranded after massive mudslides crashed through Montecito, California early Tuesday morning. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Kerry Mann navigates the large boulders and mudflow that destroyed her friend's home in Montecito.

Jan 9, 2018 – Montecito, Santa Barbara County, California, U.S. – KERRY MANN navigates the large boulders and mudflow that destroyed the home of her friend in Montecito. The woman who lives in the home has not been seen since the early hours of Tuesday. At least 15 people died and thousands fled their homes in Southern California as a powerful rainstorm triggered flash floods and mudslides on slopes where a series of intense wildfires had burned off protective vegetation last month. (Newscom TagID: zumaamericasnineteen760940.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

A view of the 101 freeway from Olive Mill Road in Montecito.

MONTECITO, CA – JANUARY 9: A view of the 101 freeway from Olive Mill Road in Montecito after a major storm hit the burn area January 9, 2018 in Montecito, California. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Phillip Harnsberger crosses through mud from a flooded creek in Montecito on January 9.

Phillip Harnsberger crosses through mud from a flooded creek on Sheffield Drive in Montecito, Calif., following heavy rain, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. Multiple people were killed and homes were torn from their foundations Tuesday as downpours sent mud and boulders roaring down hills stripped of vegetation by a gigantic wildfire that raged in Southern California last month. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

Mud fills the interior of a destroyed car in Burbank on January 9.

Mud fills the interior of a car destroyed in a rain-driven mudslide in a neighborhood under mandatory evacuation in Burbank, California, January 9, 2018.
Mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm demolished homes in southern California, authorities said Tuesday. Five people were reported killed. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Runoff water from a creek floods Highway 101 in Montecito on January 9. Flooding forced many heavily traveled roads to close.

 

Reilly, a search dog with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, looks for victims in Montecito on January 9.

In this photo provided by Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Santa Barbara County Fire Search Dog Reilly looks for victims in damaged and destroyed homes in Montecito, Calif. following deadly runoff of mud and debris from heavy rain on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. At least five people were killed and homes were swept from their foundations Tuesday as heavy rain sent mud and boulders sliding down hills stripped of vegetation by a gigantic wildfire that raged in Southern California last month. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

A van is stuck in the mud in the Sun Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles on January 9.

Mud flows leaves a van stuck in the mud along La Tuna Canyon road in the Sun Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles, on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. Homes were swept from their foundations as heavy rain sent mud and boulders sliding down hills stripped of vegetation by Southern California’s recent wildfires. (David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)

A police vehicle drives across a flooded side road in Montecito, near the San Ysidro exit of Highway 101 on January 9.

A police vehicle drives across a flooded side road off the US 101 freeway near the San Ysidro exit in Montecito, California on January 9, 2018.
Mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm demolished homes in southern California and killed at least 13 people, police said Tuesday. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Mud covers a road in Burbank on January 9.

Mud runs over a road on January 9, 2018, in Burbank, California.
Mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm demolished homes in southern California, authorities said Tuesday. Five people were reported killed. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Los Angeles firefighters work amid floodwaters and mud on January 9.Mud washes away personal belongings in the Sun Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles on January 9.

Mud washes away personal belongings along La Tuna Canyon road in the Sun Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. Homes were swept from their foundations as heavy rain sent mud and boulders sliding down hills stripped of vegetation by Southern California’s recent wildfires. (David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)

Rushing rainwater fills the Los Angeles River near downtown Los Angeles.

Rushing rainwater fills the Los Angeles river near downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2018. The first significant storm of the season walloped much of California with damaging winds and thunderstorms. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)


Cal Fire battles 600-acre wildfire in Tuolumne County.

Multiple homes were evacuated as Cal Fire firefighters battle a 600-acre vegetation fire in Tuolumne County. Cal Fire officials said the fire has a “dangerous rate of spread.”

The fire has been 30 percent contained.

All mandatory evacuations have been lifted as of 7 p.m. Saturday.

The following roads are under an evacuation advisory:

+ Campbells Flat Road
+ Meadowlark Lane
+ Blackbird Lane

The following roads are closed:

+ Algerine at Wards Ferry

+ Lime Kiln at Wards Ferry

The wildfire began on the 15000 block of Jacksonville Road before 3 p.m. Saturday and was headed toward Algerine Road. Jacksonville Road at Highway 120 has reopened as of 9 p.m.


Redding Fire.

The fire, reported shortly after 6 p.m. Monday, raced up the hill around Teakwood Drive, Rosewood Drive and Peppertree Lane, threatening homes in those neighbors. Two outbuildings and fences were also destroyed, and decks and siding were damaged.

Entire neighborhoods stood outside of their homes, enduring the smokey conditions, to watch as firefighters battled the fire.

Redding resident Laura McDuffey took this photograph of the fire from her backyard. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Laura McDuffey)

A fire investigator, looking into what set the fire off, talked to witnesses. Late Monday night, fire crews continued to mop up, and Battalion chief Rob Pitt anticipated they would stay there through the morning to make sure to put out any spots.

The cause remains under investigation, though the initial reports were that some youths had been seen in the greenbelt, a Redding fire official said.

“That would not be abnormal. We have juveniles playing in the greenbelts all the time,” Battalion Chief Rob Pitt said. “Unknown if they are involved, but we do have an investigator on scene.”

Firefighters said Tuesday morning an Arbuckle Court resident heard around 6 p.m. what sounded like a girl screaming from the open space behind his home.

When that resident looked over a fence, he saw the fire burning in the dry grass and two juveniles running from the area, firefighters said.

One of them was described as a boy, about 15 to 18 years old and 5 feet 9 inches tall with blonde hair. He was wearing a turquoise tank top and gray shorts.

The other was a girl about 15 or 16 with brown hair and wearing a pink shirt.

Those with any information about their identities are asked to call 225-4141.

The fast-moving fire gave residents in the area a scare.

Bonnie Boyce, who lives at the corner of Teakwood and Rosewood, said she opened her sliding patio door so her dog, Buddy, could go outside. She smelled smoke, so she went to her front door to investigate.

When she opened the door, she saw the tall flames behind a home and police cars and fire engines rushing down Teakwood.

“I’ve got a bag packed,” she said, holding on to a cool, wet towel around her neck and glass of water in her other hand.

Over the years, firefighters have been called to numerous fires at the same canyon, Pitt said.

When firefighters arrived, it had grown to two acres and was being fanned by a south wind and extreme low humidity of 5 percent to 7 percent.

It pushed the incident from a second-alarm fire, which prompts all eight city engines and available resources to respond, to a third-alarm fire. A third alarm brings out five additional engines from Shasta County fire and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, aircraft and hand crews.

Laura McDuffey, who lives two doors from the house that sustained significant damage, said she went to her neighbors’ homes to alert them about the fire. She and family members grabbed garden hoses in hopes of keeping the fire back.

Wildfire burning near Big Bear Lake grows to 950 acres amid sweltering California heat wave.

A wildfire in the San Bernardino Mountains continued to grow overnight as warm temperatures and low humidity helped push flames over a ridge top and deeper into rugged terrain, authorities said Tuesday. “Compared to fire behavior during the day, the fire did lay down a bit. But the fire did remain active,” said U.S. Forest Service Battalion Chief Chon Bribiescas. The flames chewed through dry chaparral and timber as it moved closer to Highway 18, which is closed between Baldwin Lake and Mitsubishi Plant roads, Bribiescas said. The fire was 950 acres and 10% contained Tuesday morning, officials said. An estimated 450 firefighters are battling the flames. The blaze, dubbed the Holcomb fire, began about 3 p.m. Monday near Holcomb Valley Road and North Shore Drive, the Big Bear Fire Department said. In what was the hottest day of the year so far in the mountains, two firefighters suffered heat-related injuries as the blaze spread across an estimated 850 acres in its first few hours, officials said. Temperatures reached 89 degrees in the mountain area on Monday, and were forecast to be just under that on Tuesday. “Having no cloud cover, high temperatures and those relative low humidities, it’s going to burn pretty good,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jimmy Taeger said. Conditions are expected to improve slightly in the coming days as the heat wave subsides, he said. The flames generated large plumes of smoke that were visible across the region. The smoke and wind prompted the South Coast Air Quality Management District to issue a smoke advisory, warning of unhealthy air in the eastern San Bernardino Mountains. The wildfire was not posing a threat to homes, but the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said the Tanglewood Campground, the Doble Trail campground, the Baldwin Lake area and a nearby waste dump were closed as a precaution.

 

fire

The blaze, dubbed the Holcomb fire, began about 3 p.m. Monday near Holcomb Valley Road and North Shore Drive, the Big Bear Fire Department said. In what was the hottest day of the year so far in the mountains, two firefighters suffered heat-related injuries as the blaze spread across an estimated 850 acres in its first few hours, officials said. Temperatures reached 89 degrees in the mountain area on Monday, and were forecast to be just under that on Tuesday. “Having no cloud cover, high temperatures and those relative low humidities, it’s going to burn pretty good,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jimmy Taeger said. Conditions are expected to improve slightly in the coming days as the heat wave subsides, he said. The flames generated large plumes of smoke that were visible across the region. The smoke and wind prompted the South Coast Air Quality Management District to issue a smoke advisory, warning of unhealthy air in the eastern San Bernardino Mountains. The wildfire was not posing a threat to homes, but the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said the Tanglewood Campground, the Doble Trail campground, the Baldwin Lake area and a nearby waste dump were closed as a precaution.

 


 

Long Beach has a HEART.

The Homelessness Education and Response Team (HEART Unit) went into service on November 15, 2016.  Staffed with two Firefighter/Paramedics, the HEART Unit works throughout the city connecting individuals experiencing homelessness with resources provided by the City of Long Beach Homeless Outreach Network. The HEART unit may assist units on scene of emergency responses to free up fire resources, thereby decreasing response times and improving service to the community.

 


1 KILLED, 6 INJURED IN LONG BEACH APARTMENT FIRE

 

One person was killed during a fire in the 5500 block of Dairy Avenue in Long Beach on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, according to the Long Beach Fire Department.

 

One person was killed and six others were injured during an apartment fire in Long Beach on New Year’s Day, according to officials.

The Long Beach Fire Department said the blaze happened in the 5500 block of Dairy Avenue before 7:30 p.m.

When crews arrived to the two-story apartment complex they found fire and heavy smoke billowing from the first floor.

Firefighters were able to knock the fire down at about 7:40 p.m. A body was discovered in a first-floor unit where the fire was believed to have originated.

During the blaze, officials said a family of five living in the unit above the apartment where the fire sparked had to flee to safety.

A 28-year-old man who jumped from the second floor balcony was taken to the hospital, according to the fire department. Officials didn’t disclose the extent of his injuries.

The fire department said a 26-year-old woman, two boys, ages 9 and 7, and a 4-year-old girl were treated and released at the scene.

A 24-year-old woman who cut her leg on glass was also treated and released at the scene.

Officials said out of six apartment units, two sustained damage. The blaze remained under investigation.


Death Toll in Oakland Warehouse Fire Rises to 36 as Search Continues

Nikki Kelber and Carmen Brito describe seeing entire walls and a hallway engulfed in flames before escaping from the burning warehouse.
By ELSA BUTLER and THOMAS FULLER on Publish DateDecember 5, 2016. Photo by Jim Wilson/The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »

OAKLAND, Calif. — Carmen Brito was asleep on Friday night when she suddenly woke up gasping for breath. Outside her small studio, one floor down from where a raging concert was taking place, she saw her neighbor’s wall on fire.

“I’m pretty sure I was the first person to see the fire, and when I saw it, it was bigger than I was,” said Ms. Brito, 28. The inferno killed at least 36 people and is regarded as one of the worst structure fires in the United States in over a decade.

On Sunday, firefighters were digging through the ruins of the warehouse, where people had gathered for an electronic dance show on Friday when flames ripped through the building, collapsing the floors. The search of the building, which had only two exits, could continue for days, officials said at a news conference, warning that the death toll could climb considerably higher.

The authorities said on Monday that 11 victims have been positively identified. One victim was the son of a local law enforcement officer, said Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County sheriff’s office. “This tragedy has hit very close to home for our agency,” he said. Other victims were from countries in Europe and Asia. The officials were in the process of contacting agencies abroad.

More than 35 people were killed on Friday night in a warehouse fire in Oakland, Calif. The authorities expect the death toll to rise.

Ms. Brito was just one member of a community of roughly 25 artists who inhabited the building illegally — but in plain sight of Oakland city officials. The building, which was known as the Ghost Ship and has been under investigation for code violations, had a permit to function as a warehouse, but not as a residence or for a party. A criminal investigation began on Sunday.

Ms. Brito said the fire started at the very back of the building, in a studio next to hers, when the couple who occupied the room were gone. She said a firefighter investigating the blaze had asked her whether the couple had recently installed a refrigerator, which they had, raising the possibility that the building’s electrical system played a role. The officials said on Monday that they believed they had identified the section of the building where the fire started, but cautioned that they were no closer to finding a cause.

Ms. Brito and another survivor, Nikki Kelber, 44, said the building’s renters had repeatedly asked its owner to upgrade the electrical system, which failed often enough that residents had flashlights in their studios.

Ms. Kelber and Ms. Brito said that the building had many fire extinguishers and that one of the residents, Max Ohr, tried to use one on the flames but soon gave up.

“It was like trying to put out a bonfire with a squirt gun,” Ms. Brito said.

The residents of the building said they had been priced out of parts of the San Francisco Bay Area that have become increasingly unaffordable. They called themselves refugees and were happy to be living among a community of like-minded artists paying an affordable rent.

Oakland itself has seen rents and home prices skyrocket with the technology boom. The high cost of living has led to alternative housing arrangements across the region, from a community of homes made of shipping containers to lines of recreational vehicles on Silicon Valley side streets.

But these spaces, while often illegal, are subject to the same market forces rippling through the broader market. That has given outsize power to the so-called master tenants who control the lease of a building and, at least in some cases, can make money by subletting to struggling artists willing to live in substandard conditions.

The Ghost Ship was one of these illegal living spaces. Residents and visitors described it as both a haven for artists and a fire trap, with a warren of trailers, broken pianos and stacks of wood and a complex network of electrical cords and generators.

It was home for jewelers, metalworkers, dancers, musicians and others, and parties that brought hundreds to its labyrinthine corridors. But it was also plagued by discord and the whims of its two master tenants, Derick Ion Almena and Micah Allison, who lived there with their three children, ages 13, 7 and 6.

Several residents said they were lured in by the promise of cheap rent and a creative community, only to find that their new home had no heat, sporadic electricity and a master tenant — Mr. Almena — who would bring in homeless people to harass residents who crossed him. Mr. Almena was serving a sentence of three years’ probation, having pleaded no contest in January to a felony charge of receiving stolen property. Mr. Almena and Ms. Allison could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

“A lot of people were his friend because they believed in the miracle,” said Shelley Mack, 58, who moved into the space in October 2014, paying $700 to live in a mobile home inside the warehouse. “But it was a sick place.”

Ms. Mack left after several frightening episodes, she said. In one, she said, a friend of Mr. Almena’s pulled a gun on several residents.

In March 2015, the Alameda County Social Services Agency removed Mr. Almena and Ms. Allison’s children from their custody after relatives expressed concerns about safety. The agency returned the children this past June.

People familiar with the space questioned why the police did not do anything to shut down the Ghost Ship.

“That place was a tinderbox,” said Danielle Boudreaux, 40, who had visited the warehouse. “Anybody who went in there who had any kind of authority should have not allowed it to continue.”

Mr. Ohr, who took on a supervisory role among tenants, said they told the landlord that the electrical system needed upgrading. “We reached out on multiple occasions, complaining that the power wasn’t working,” Mr. Ohr said. “They made no attempt to make it right.”

The area where the fire had started had been closed off to the partygoers and was “unmonitored,” Mr. Ohr said. “There are plenty of signs that point to it being an electrical fire.”

Ms. Kelber’s studio was near one of the building’s exits, and when she spotted a “ball of fire” coming down the hallway she had only seconds to react. “After 15 seconds, the power went out, and another 30 seconds later it was completely engulfed. It went so fast.”

Ms. Kelber and Ms. Brito described confusion in the seconds after the fire was discovered because the urgent and panicked cries of residents were drowned out by a D.J.’s music in the building’s mezzanine, where the concert was underway.

The wooden statues, exposed beams and countless other objects made of timber on the ground floor of the building helped fuel a fire that raged for hours and gutted the entire structure.

Oakland Warehouse Was Used Illegally for Performances and Residences

The fire that killed more than 30 people on Friday in Oakland occurred in a warehouse that was being used as an artistic and performance venue.

The building, known as the Ghost Ship, also housed a community of roughly 25 artists who lived in the building even though it should not have had residents.

Carmen Brito, who lived in an apartment at the back of the first floor, said she thought the fire started in a studio next to hers.

The warehouse had two floors and two entrances, and it was filled with vintage furniture, rugs and other objects, as well as musical instruments.

Besides the front entrance on 31st Avenue, there was a side entrance that had been cut into the south wall that opened onto a vacant lot. There was also an opening in the north wall on the second floor that provided access to a bathroom in the adjacent building, according to Omar Vega, the owner of Custom O’s, an automotive shop on the first floor.

Inside the front entrance was a stairway that had been added to the original warehouse space, Mr. Vega said. The stairway wound to the left up to the second floor, where a performance of electronic music had drawn several dozen people on Friday night.

The authorities said the evacuation of the building may have been complicated by those stairs, which were at least partly constructed of pallet wood.

Nikki Kelber

Residents and visitors described the building as both a haven for artists and a fire trap, with a warren of trailers, broken pianos and stacks of wood and a complex network of electrical cords and generators.


Aug 10, 2016

Fire crews gained some significant ground on a massive Northern California wildfire that has destroyed 175 homes, businesses and other structures and charred nearly 7 square miles.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant says the fire in Lower Lake, about a two hour drive from San Francisco, was 20 percent Monday.

The progress came as authorities arrested 40-year-old Damin Anthony Pashilk of Clearlake, California, on 17 counts of arson Monday. Pashilk is suspected of sparking the blaze that exploded over the weekend. Officials say he is also suspected in several other fires over the past year in Lake County.

Roughly 1,600 firefighters are battling the blaze Tuesday through warm temperatures and light winds.

(Steven Brittain, for Victor Valley News)

 

(Steven Brittain, for Victor Valley News)

Pilot Fire Now 64% Contained; “Significant Progress” Made Overnight

HESPERIA, Calif:(VVNG.com)- Firefighters made significant progress over the last 24 hours and the Pilot Fire is now at 64% containment and 7,861 acres.

A total of 1,746 personnel are assigned to the Pilot Fire including, 105 engines, 14 water tenders, 12 helicopters, 1 air tanker, 46 hand crews, and 18 dozerz.

Today’s temperature is expected to be warmer with a high near 90 degrees, humidity is expected to remain in the low teens. Winds will continue out of the south-west from 10-15 mph with gust as high as 30 mph.

Inmate Fire Crews were deployed to the Pilot Fire on August 7th & 8th with a 20 man team. On August 9th & 10th a 10 man team responded to the fire. The Inmate Fire Crews have worked tirelessly alongside firefighters digging trenches and clearing brush.

Inmate Crews (Photo courtesy of SBSD Headquarters)

Inmate Crews (photo courtesy of SBSD Headquaters)

 


 

Aug 9, 2016

 

(Steven Brittain, for Victor Valley News)

Aug 9, 2016

HESPERIA, Calif: (VVNG.com)- On the morning of Tuesday, August 9th the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors declared a local state of emergency in response to the Pilot Fire.

“The purpose of this is to make County Government eligible for state and perhaps eventually federal reimbursement for any of the costs of fighting the fire,” stated County spokesman David Wert.

“It might also make those who suffered a loss from the fire eligible for state and perhaps eventually federal assistance.”

As of 3:00 p.m. the Pilot Fire continues to burn in the San Bernardino National Forest’s and has charred6,963 acres and is only 6% contained.

 

(Steven Brittain, for Victor Valley News)

(Steven Brittain, for Victor Valley News)


 Southern California fire grows to nearly 6K acres as crews fight for containment.

By Andrew V. Pestano, Doug G. Ware and Shawn Price

Aug. 9, 2016

Firefighters battle the Pilot Wildfire in San Bernardino County, Calif., on Monday, which is one of several fires burning across the state. Officials said Monday that the cause of the fire is unknown and no injuries have been reported. Photo courtesy San Bernardino Fire Department


SAN BERNARDINO , Calif., Aug. 8 (UPI) — An aggressive wildfire in Southern California has quickly scorched more than 6,300 acres and has prompted authorities to order mandatory and voluntary evacuations of thousands of homes, fire officials said Monday.

The evacuations were ordered for the Summit Valley area in San Bernardino County — about 75 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. The blaze, called the Pilot Fire, has so far burned more than 6,300 acres with only 6 percent containment, officials said Monday.

The fire began about noon Sunday east of Highway 138 and Silverwood Lake, and smoke advisories were issued for the Mojave Desert area. Officials said 840 firefighters with bulldozers, helicopters and tankers has been deployed to combat the flames.

Firefighters gather to execute a strategy to fight the Pilot Wildfire in San Bernardino County, Calif., on Monday. The fire started Sunday afternoon and had destroyed nearly 5,000 acres by Monday afternoon, authorities said. Photo courtesy San Bernardino National Forest

Despite the fire’s large size and expanding danger, no injuries and no structural damage has so far been reported.

“Because of the aggressive attack by our firefighters, we were able to protect homes,” said Bob Poole, U.S. Forest Service spokesman. “These guys — they’re highly trained, they’re highly motivated and they’re doing an incredible job in difficult conditions.”

There have been, however, a few close calls. Officials said Monday that firefighters worked through the night to keep one home away from the flames near Highway 173, the San Bernardino Sun reported.

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group warned residents to avoid using hobby drones, as they “pose a major safety threat to firefighting pilots and firefighters.”

“When a hobby drone is flown into a fire area, incident commanders have no choice but to suspend air operations and ground aircraft until the drone is removed from the area,” the NWCG said in a statement. “A collision could easily result in major damage to our aircraft, injuries to the pilot and crew on board as well as firefighters below, and worse, a midair collision.”


 

Deadly Soberanes fire north of Big Sur grows; Southland’s Sand fire closer to being contained.

July 29,2016 8:50 AM

Soberanes fire

The Soberanes fire burns in Palo Colorado Canyon in the Big Sur region on Monday. (David Royal / Monterey County Herald via Associated Press)

Story By Brittny Mejia and Veronica Rocha

Firefighters made gains on Southern California’s deadly Sand fire, the struggle continued Friday with containment of a massive wildfire burning north of Big Sur that has scorched more than 30,000 acres.

The Soberanes fire, which has burned out of control for days and claimed one life, is only 15% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. To date, 31,386 acres have burned, fire officials said.

A total of 41 homes and 10 outbuildings have been destroyed by the blaze, which started a week ago in Soberanes Creek. The fire is threatening 2,000 structures and has forced hundreds of residents to evacuate, fire officials said.

The unpredictable blaze also claimed the life of Robert Reagan III, a bulldozer operator called in Tuesday to help battle the fire. At some point, he suffered fatal injuries in a remote area on the southeast end of the fire in Garrapata State Park in Carmel.

Fire crews have faced difficulties getting into the area where the fire is burning, said Cal Fire Capt. Raymond Martinez.

“The Monterey area where the fire is burning is very steep, rocky terrain which is hampering our containment effort,” Martinez said. “That’s the biggest challenge right now.”

Flames have also encroached on illegal marijuana growing operations and led to unexpected rescues.

On Monday, two people were tending to a marijuana grow when they became trapped by flames. They were found by Monterey County sheriff’s deputies.

All 900 marijuana plants were destroyed by the fire.

Then on Tuesday, eight men who had been lost for six days and were surrounded by flames while working on an illegal marijuana grow were rescued by firefighters, the Monterey Herald reported. Cal Fire officials said the men were not injured.

In Santa Clarita Valley, the deadly Sand fire has burned 38,873 acres and is now 85% contained. There were 1,718 firefighters working on the fire, a drop from early on when there were upwards of 3,000 firefighters.

“We’re by no means 100% contained, but we are at a point where we’re trying to match the needs of the incident with the personnel we have on the incident,” said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Justin Correll.

Firefighters are being released so they can be available for other fires, Correll said.

“We’re still keeping firefighters on this fire until 100% containment and even after,” Correll said.

The flames overtook Robert Bresnick, 67, who had been evacuating with his girlfriend and pets. He was discovered dead at about 7:20 p.m. Saturday inside a burned car in a driveway outside his girlfriend’s home in the 26700 block of Iron Canyon Road.

The deadly fires prompted acting Gov. Tom Torlakson to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday for Los Angeles and Monterey counties.


Drones force firefighters to temporarily halt air assault on wildfire

 

By : Emily Alpert Reyes

A wildfire that has scorched more than 5,200 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains above Duarte and Azusa was 62% contained as of early Sunday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service.The San Gabriel Complex fire is actually two fires that started on Monday — the Reservoir fire and the Fish fire — that forced hundreds of residents to evacuate over the last week as high temperatures baked Southern California.

By Saturday, firefighters appeared to be gaining the upper hand. Evacuation orders were lifted and an American Red Cross evacuation center was closed. The forest service also reopened the Chantry Flats Recreation Area. Fire officials complained, however, that several drones had been spotted over the fire this weekend, forcing them to temporarily halt air operations. Some firefighters have been airlifted by helicopter to remote stretches of the fire.


2 FIRES CHAR 4,400 ACRES WITH NO CONTAINMENT IN ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST ABOVE AZUSA, DUARTE

 

By and ABC7.com staff

Two fast-moving brush fires continue to burn through dry brush in the Angeles National Forest above Azusa and Duarte early Tuesday morning.

The fires, dubbed the Reservoir Fire and Fish Fire, have burned a total of 5,400 acres and neither have been contained. The Fish Fire has prompted mandatory evacuations in Duarte and fire officials are considering issuing some for Monrovia.

California Highway Patrol officers received a call around 10:57 a.m. about a pickup truck going over the embankment of Highway 39 near the Morris Reservoir Dam. The truck caught fire, which officials believe may have sparked the blaze. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Reservoir Fire has burned about 2,400 acres, according to fire officials.

PHOTOS: 2 fires burn above Azusa, Duarte in Angeles National Forest

<div class='meta'><div class='origin-logo' data-origin='KABC'></div><span class='caption-text' data-credit=''>AIR7 HD captured the smoke and flames from a brush fire above Duarte, dubbed the Fish Fire, in the Angeles National Forest on Monday, June 20, 2016.</span></div>
AIR7 HD captured the smoke and flames from a brush fire above Duarte, dubbed the Fish Fire, in the Angeles National Forest on Monday, June 20, 2016.

 

About 90 minutes later, the Fish Fire broke out above Duarte and quickly began to spread through the brush. It has burned about 3,000 acres, according to fire officials.

So far, the fires have not merged, fire officials said, but they are only a mile and a half apart. Hundreds of firefighters from multiple agencies are working to control the fires. One firefighter suffered heat exhaustion fighting the blazes amid triple-digit temperatures.

Water drops were continued overnight in an effort to keep the fires away from homes. About 600 residents in the Duarte and Bradbury area have been affected by the blaze and 400 homes were evacuated.

The weather is expected to cool down over the next few days, but Tuesday will still be hot with very dry conditions. Red flag warnings are still in effect until Tuesday night for Los Angeles County mountain areas of the Angeles National Forest, the Santa Monica mountains and the Ventura County mountain areas of Los Padres National Forest.

Evacuations ordered in Azusa and Duarte

Azusa police ordered evacuations for Mountain Cove, Rainbow Canyon Ranch and El Encanto. An evacuation center was set up at Duarte Community Center, 1600 Huntington Dr., and at Memorial Park, 320 N. Orange Ave.

For the city of Duarte, an evacuation order was issued for homes north of Fish Canyon between Encanto Parkway and Greenbank Avenue, Brookridge Road and Opal Canyon Road.

Officials later announced extended mandatory evacuations for areas north of Markwood Street between Westvale Road and Greenbank Avenue, areas north of Deerlane Drive between Greenbank Avenue and Mountain Crest Road.

Residents in the Mount Olive Drive area just northwest of Conata Street, including residents in the Spinks Canyon Road, Rim Road, Goldenmeadow Drive, High Mesa Drive, and Tall Pink Drive areas were also mandated to evacuate the area.

Large animals can be taken to the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center at 11127 Orcas Ave. in Sylmar, and small pets can be taken to Wonder Dog Ranch at 220 Taylor St. in Monrovia.

Though there were no mandatory evacuations in effect for Monrovia, officials urged residents east of Myrtle Avenue and north of Greystone Avenue to prepare for possible evacuations if winds change direction or increase in intensity.

According to Los Angeles County Fire Chief Deputy David Richardson, 320 structures were evacuated near Azusa and 450 structures evacuated in the Duarte and Bradbury area.

Smoke advisory issued

Smoke from the forest fires was seen by residents across the Southland, including West Covina, Alhambra and Brea.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory due to the fires. AQMD officials said air quality could reach unhealthy levels in areas impacted by smoke, including portions of the East San Gabriel Valley, the Pomona/Walnut Valley, the San Gabriel Mountains and metropolitan Riverside.

The public was urged to exercise caution and avoid unnecessary outdoor activities in any area directly impacted by smoke.

Road closures caused by Fish Fire

The Fish Fire has prompted road closures for the following streets:

  • Mount Olive Drive at Royal Oaks Drive
  • Vineyard Avenue at Markwood Street
  • Woodbluff Street from Sunnydale Drive
  • Greenbank Avenue from Deerlane Drive
  • Conata Street at Bettyhill Avenue
  • Mel Canyon Road at Opal Canyon Road
  • Mountain Crest Road at Fish Canyon Road
  • Encanto parkway at Markwood Street
  • Mount Olive Drive at Woodlyn Lane
  • Mount Olive Drive at Elda Street

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.


Fire boats respond to a fire on the Seal Beach Pier on May 20, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

The old Ruby’s Diner building at the end of the Seal Beach Pier was gutted by a spectacular fire that sent smoke towering over the coastline Friday morning.

Fire boats respond to a fire on the Seal Beach Pier on May 20, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

Fire boats respond to a fire on the Seal Beach Pier on May 20, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

The fire was first reported about 7:45 a.m., Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Larry Kurtz said.

The building that burned was once home to a Ruby’s Diner, which closed in 2013. Smoke was still coming out of the gutted structure more than 7 hours after the fire broke out, and firefighter expected it would be smoking for hours to come.

Aerial video from Sky5 showed three boats initially surrounding the old restaurant, using water cannons to douse the flames.

“A fire on a building at the end of a pier is definitely a challenge,” Kurtz said.

Firefighters ran hose for hundreds of feet down the course of the pier, and boats from the Long Beach Fire Department were helping, he said. Dozens of fire engines could also be seen parked near the pier.

Viewer Michael Sosa sent this photo to KTLA of a fire burning at the end of the Seal Beach Pier on May 20, 2016.

Viewer Michael Sosa sent this photo to KTLA of a fire burning at the end of the Seal Beach Pier on May 20, 2016.

Crews tried to keep the flames from burning too much of the actual pier, Kurtz said.

A fourth boat, described as the largest fire boat on the West Coast in a tweet by the Long Beach Fire Department, later joined the fight and put two more large streams of water onto the flames.

The intense streams of water coming from the Long Beach boat was so strong it stripped roofing off the burning building, video showed.

The roof appeared to have collapsed once the flames were largely extinguished. It was not clear how much damaged was done to the pier itself.

Kurtz said he did not know when fire inspectors had last visited the building.

Fire boats respond to a fire on the Seal Beach Pier on May 20, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

Fire boats respond to a fire on the Seal Beach Pier on May 20, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

The restaurant’s closure prompted a fence to be erected to keep people from going into the abandoned structure, Seal Beach Police Department Lt. Michael Henderson said.

The fence has been a sore spot in the community, where some have called for the business to be torn down so access to the end of the pier could be restored.

Friday’s fire was not the first incident to leave the pier in need of repair.

A storm in 1983 tore more than a thousand feet of deck off the pier’s pilings, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In a Feb. 11, 1983, Times file photo, a surfer rides a wave through a missing section of the Seal Beach Pier that was washed out by a Jan. 27 storm. (Credit: Cliff Otto/Los Angeles Times)

In a Feb. 11, 1983, Times file photo, a surfer rides a wave through a missing section of the Seal Beach Pier that was washed out by a Jan. 27 storm. (Credit: Cliff Otto/Los Angeles Times)

It was damaged again when fires struck in 1992 and 1994, according to the Times.

And just last year, powerful winds and surf from Hurricane Marie caused some structural damage, the Orange County Register reported.

The cause of Friday’s fire was under investigation and firefighters continued to overhaul the scene in the afternoon hours.

Investigators from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were aiding in the case, Kurtz said.

“We’re going to be here for probably a few more hours. It’s dirty work; it’s very long work. But we are going to find out what caused this fire,” Kurtz said.

The pier will likely remain closed until the fire’s cause has been determined.