Elderly Pasadena woman killed in house fire identified

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PASADENA >> Coroner’s investigators have identified an elderly woman who died in a fire at her Pasadena home in late November.
Sandra Bassler, 80, was found dead shortly after 8 a.m. on Nov. 25 inside her burning home in the 300 block of Redwood Drive, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Though Bassler was the home’s lone resident and has been unaccounted for since the fire, official identification was delayed to the badly burned condition of the remains. Her cause of death remained under investigation.
Neighbors called 911 to report the fire, a neighbor suffered burns as he twice attempted to rescue the elderly woman from the home, but was driven back by a “wall of fire,” Pasadena Fire Department Chief Bertral Washington said at the time.
Firefighters found Bassler and pronounced her dead at the scene, officials said.
Investigators noted multiple possible causes of the fire, but had not isolated a specific cause, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Overloaded wiring, excessive use of power cords and strips, an electric space heater, an electric blanket, candles and smoking materials were all found inside the room where the fire started, she said.

PHOTO by Walt Mancini

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Fire destroys garage in Pasadena

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PASADENA >> An early-morning fire destroyed a residential garage in Pasadena on Saturday, causing an estimated $100,000 worth of damage but resulting in no injuries, officials said.
The fire was first reported at 3:30 a.m. in the 1800 block of North Madison Avenue, according to Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian.
Firefighters “aggressively” attacked the flames and declared the fire extinguished 20 minutes after arrival, she said.
Officials estimated the fire caused $70,000 in damage to the garage, and another $30,000 worth of damage to items stored inside.
The cause remained under investigation.

PHOTO courtesy of the Pasadena Fire Department

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Family displaced by Christmas Eve house fire in Pasadena

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PASADENA >> A Christmas Eve fire ripped through a Pasadena home late Saturday, displacing a family of three and causing about $850,000 worth of damage, authorities said.
The fire was first reported at 8:51 p.m. at a home in the 400 block of Redwood Drive, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Smoke and flames were pouring from the roof of the two-story home when firefighters arrived, she said. Three family members who lived inside the home had already gotten out safely.
Stored items in the rear of the home helped fuel the fire, which consumed “a majority of the house” before being declared extinguished 24 minutes after firefighters arrived on scene, Derderian said.
Officials estimated the fire caused about $700,000 worth of damage to the home and another $150,000 in damage to the contents inside.
The cause was under investigation.

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PHOTOS courtesy of Jamie Nicholson/Pasadena Fire Department

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Fire scorches Altadena discount store

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ALTADENA >> A fire gutted a discount store in Altadena late Friday but resulted in no injuries, officials said.
The fire was first reported at 11:03 p.m. at Joon’s Discount, at Fair Oaks Avenue and Woodbury Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Los Angeles County firefighters encountered “heavy smoke and fire” inside the building when they arrived.
“Fire department units had to use cutting tools to gain access inside and after fighting the fire for several minutes they were able to search the inside of the store and, thankfully, no one was inside,” according to the statement.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, but there were no initial indications of suspicious circumstances, officials said.
“Most if not all of the contents of the store had been damaged by fire, smoke and water,” the statement continued.
A dollar-value estimate of the damage was not available.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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Fire scorches South Whittier home

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SOUTH WHITTIER >> A stubborn house fire early Thursday tore through a South Whittier home and sent a firefighter to the hospital with minor injuries, authorities said.
The fire was first reported at 6:57 a.m. in the 12000 block of Colima Road, in the unincorporated count area, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Richard Licon said.
Heavy smoke and fire poured from the two-story, hillside home when firefighters arrived.
Packrat conditions provided ample fuel for the flames, officials said.
Firefighters worked for more than an hour-and-a-half before declaring the blaze “knocked down” at 8:32 a.m., Licon said.
All residents of the home were safely accounted for, however one firefighter was taken to a hospital due to fatigue, the inspector said. The injury was considered minor.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Fire Department

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Man and woman killed in Monrovia mobile home fire


MONROVIA >> A man and woman died following a fire at their Monrovia mobile home early Saturday morning, authorities said.
The fatal fire was first reported about 1:15 a.m. by a neighbor who went outside for a cigarette at the mobile home park at 1020 S. Mountain Avenue and noticed smoke emanating from a neighbors unit, Monrovia police and fire officials said. He called 911.
Believing his neighbors were still inside their home, the man tried to make his way into the burning mobile home but was pushed back by the heat and smoke, Monrovia Fire Department Capt. Michael Bailey said.
A Monrovia police officer who happened to be nearby arrived at the scene within a minute, Monrovia police Lt. Rob Wilken said. Firefighters soon followed.
After arriving on scene, “I was told by one of the Monrovia police officers that it was suspected the two people who lived there were still inside the structure,” Bailey said. “We made an effort in order to try and get them out.”
Found the male victim still alive inside the smoke-filled mobile home, officials said. He was treated and rushed to the Methodist Hospital in Arcadia, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. The female victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
The identities of the victims were not available pending positive identification and notification of their family members, officials said. They were described as a man and a woman in their 60s or 70s.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, but it was believed to be accidental in nature, Bailey said. Possible ignition sources being investigated included an electrical problem or a discarded cigarette.
Firefighters found no smoke detectors inside the mobile home, which was densely packed with belongings, Bailey said.
Saturday mornings fire was the second deadly fire reported in Monrovia over the past two weeks, and the third reported in the area.
A Monrovia man died following a 2 a.m. fire at his home in the 100 block of N. Canyon Boulevard, Monrovia fire Capt. Chris Huston said.
Firefighters responding to reports of a fire at a two-story home which had been converted into a triplex encountered a man outside the home suffering from burns, but trying to get back into the flaming structure, Huston said. It was determined the man was trying to rescue his pet cats from the home.
Paramedics took the injured man, who was in his mid-50s, to hospital where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
While extinguishing the fire, firefighters saved the two cats, as well as a turtle, from the home, Huston said.
Investigators determined the Canyon Boulevard fire was ignited by combustible materials left too close to an electric space heater, he said.
And in Pasadena, an elderly woman died in an 8 a.m. fire at her house in the 3000 block of Redwood Drive, according to Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian.
A neighbor suffered burns in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the woman prior to the arrival of firefighters, she said.
A specific cause was not determined, but fire investigators noted numerous possible causes, including overloaded wiring, excessive use of power strips, an electric heater, an electric blanket, candles and smoking materials.

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Man holes-up in tree while home burns with children inside in Alhambra


ALHAMBRA >> A distraught man climbed into a tree in the backyard of a burning home, leaving two children inside alone, before officials ultimately persuaded him to climb down and surrender on Friday morning, authorities said.
The incident began with a report of a house fire about 10 a.m. in the 700 block of North Second Street, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said in a written statement. The relatively small fire was confined to one portion of the home.
“While extinguishing the fire, they encountered a distraught, uncooperative man in the backyard of the house that was burning,” Johnson said. Firefighters called police for help.
Firefighters also found two children, about 5 and 6 years old, inside the home and removed them to safety, Alhambra police and fire officials said. They were unhurt, and it was unclear whether they were aware the house was on fire.
As officers approached the man in the backyard, he climbed about 20 feet up into a backyard tree and refused to come down, officials said.
As a precaution, officials placed Garfield Elementary School, located across the street, on lockdown, Johnson added.
An Alhambra police officer, aided by a county mental health clinician, spoke with the man and encouraged him to come down, according to Johnson. “After about an hour of talking to the man, he peacefully climbed down from the tree.”
Officials took the man to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries, officials said. No other injuries were reported.
Police expected to take the man for psychiatric evaluation, Johnson said. It was unclear whether he would face criminal charges as the investigation into the incident and the cause of the fire continued Friday night.
“The actual fire itself was not large in scope, It wasn’t a complete loss on the structure,” Alhambra Fire Department Battalion Chief Doug Shonkwiler said. A dollar-value estimate of the damage was not available.
The detained man had a connection to the involved home, though it was unclear if he lived there, officials said. The relationship between the man and children was unclear.

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UPDATED: Elderly woman found dead in burning Pasadena home

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PASADENA >> An elderly woman died in a house fire in Pasadena Friday morning despite a neighbor’s “heroic” efforts to rescue her, authorities said.
Neighbors called 911 at about 8 a.m. after noticing smoke coming from the two-story home in the 300 block of Redwood Drive, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
A neighbor tried to rescue the trapped woman, but was driven back by the intense house fire. The man, who is in his 40s, suffered apparently minor burns from the fire but declined to be taken to a hospital.
Firefighters arrived to find flames rising from the home, officials said. Neighbors told firefighters that an elderly woman who lived alone at the home had been heard yelling for help from within, officials said.
“A neighbor who was walking by, heard a female screaming inside and saw light smoke coming from the rear of the structure,” Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral Washington said in a written statement. “After recognizing there was a fire, the neighbor heroically made entry through the front door and attempted to pull the elderly resident to safety.
“He was met with tremendous heat and a wall of fire in the room she was lying in. The victim was pulled out of the fire room, but not before the neighbor sustained minor burn injuries,” Washington said.
Pushed back by the flames, the man called out for help from other members of his family, who rushed to try to help as well.
“Despite being driven out of the building by smoke and heat, and he made a second heroic attempt to rescue the victim by running inside again, placing himself in even greater peril,” according to Washington. “Even though the neighbor made great effort in attempting to rescue the victim, the fast moving fire quickly consumed both the victim and interior of the structure.”
Firefighters found the woman in the home as they worked to extinguish the flames, Derderian said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Los Angeles County coroner’s investigators had yet to identify the victim Saturday. The identification process was expected to be delayed due to the charred condition of the body, officials said.
But the elderly woman believed to be the home’s lone resident remained unaccounted for Friday afternoon.
Fire investigators identified multiple possible causes of the fire, but had yet to isolate the specific cause.
Overloaded wiring, excessive use of extension cords and power strips, an electric heater, and electric blanket, candles and smoking materials were all discovered in the roo
Investigation into the fire cause identified overloaded wiring, excessive use of extension cords and power strips, a portable heater, electric blanket, candles and smoking materials in the room of origin, fire officials said.
“Due to potential failures of so many items, the cause has yet to be determined,” Washington said. “There is no indication of foul play.”
The bottom floor of the two-story home is partially underground, which contributed to “very challenging” and “very stubborn” fire, Derderian said. Firefighters declared the fire “knocked down” about 20 minutes after it was reported.
Firefighters were able to prevent the fire from spreading to any other nearby homes or vegetation.
Derderian said the involved home sustained, “a significant loss, if not a total loss.”
The deadly fire remains under investigation by a newly-formed multi-agency arson task force comprised of investigators from Pasadena and other area fire departments.

pasfire3 Photos courtesy of the Pasadena Fire Department

— Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

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Fire shuts down 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A fire engulfed a big rig and spread to a hillside, prompting the closure of the 60 Freeway before firefighters got it under control, authorities said.
The fire was first reported as a flaming big rig about 4:30 p.m. alongside the eastbound 60 Freeway near Crossroads Parkway, according to California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials.
The flames destroyed the truck and spread to brush on a hillside next to the freeway before firefighters attacked it both on the ground and from aircraft.
The fire scorched about half an acre of brush before firefighters declared it “under control” at 5:25 p.m,, fire department Dispatch Supervisor Melanie Flores said.
Authorities initially shut down all lanes of the 60 in both directions as they responded to the fire.
The westbound lanes were reopened within an hour, and only the two right-hand lanes of the eastbound 60 Freeway remained closed Thursday evening.
No injuries were reported, Flores said.

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Firefighters douse brush fire near 605-210 freeway interchange in Irwindale


IRWINDALE >> Firefighters quickly gained control of two small brush fires that scorched about half an acre of vegetation in wash area along the 605 Freeway in Irwindale on Friday afternoon, officials said.
The fires were first reported at 1:12 p.m. in a wash just southwest of the 605-210 freeway interchange, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Gustavo Medina said.
About half an acre went up in flames before firefighters stopped the “forward progress” of the fire just after 2 p.m., he said.
Water-dropping helicopters joined firefighters on the ground in the effort.
No injuries were reported, and no structured were threatened by the fires.
Investigators were summoned to the scene to determine the cause of the fire, Medina said.
Another fire broke out less than a mile to the south along the same riverbed on Wednesday afternoon and also scorched about half an acre of vegetation, officials said. The cause of that fire remains under investigation as well.

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PHOTOS/VIDEO courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department.

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