MONTEREY PARK >> A California Highway Patrol investigation into a crash between Alhambra and Monterey Park fire trucks last year that sent one of the engines careening into a dim sum restaurant, resulting in 15 injuries, has determined the Alhambra Fire Department truck was at fault for the collision.
The crash occurred shortly after 3 p.m. on April 16 at Garfield and Emerson avenues. Both trucks were responding to a report of a house fire in Monterey Park with emergency lights and sirens activated, officials said. The agencies often cooperate with each other in responding to emergencies.
The large truck’s collided in the intersection, sending the Monterey Park engine hurtling into the Lu Dumpling House. Four pedestrians who were walking in front of the restaurant were injured, one of them critically, authorities said. Six people inside the restaurant were also hurt, along with six firefighters.
A summary of the investigative findings released by the CHP Thursday states that the Alhambra fire engine’s driver drove unsafely just prior to the collision.
The Alhambra engine was southbound on Garfield Avenue at about 15 mph when it entered the intersection through a red light about the same time as the Monterey Park engine entered the intersection through a green light while heading east on Emerson Avenue at about 25 mph, according the CHP statement.
“The Alhambra fire engine failed to ensure the intersection was safe to enter against the red signal light,” according to the statement. “ Due to Alhambra fire engine’s unsafe operation, the front of Alhambra’s fire engine collided into the front of Monterey Park’s fire engine.”
No charges were to be filed in connection with the crash, CHP officials said.
The Alhambra engine was driven by 46-year-old Alhambra Fire Department Firefighter Bryan Butler. Monterey Park Fire Department Firefighter Nicholas Lima, 31, was at the wheel of the Monterey Park fire engine, according to the CHP.
Alhambra City Attorney Joseph Montes said 22 civil claims have been filed in connection with the crash. He declined to comment on the CHP findings.
“We’ve received the report. We’re in the process of analyzing and reviewing it,” Montes said. “We have pending litigation and in light of all that we are not in a position to make any further comment at this time.”
— Staff Writer Stephanie Baer contributed to this report.
PHOTO by Walt Mancini
ROSEMEAD — A fire damaged two Rosemead homes early Sunday, displacing two families, authorities said.
Officials first received reports of the fire in the 2600 block of Gladys Avenue at 9:57 a.m., Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Melanie Flores said.
Firefighters encountered heavy smoke on arrival and found the fire was burning its way through two homes sitting next door to each other.
Officials declared the fire extinguished at 10:33 a.m., Flores said.
No injuries were reported, however both families occupying the scorched homes were displaces, she said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation. The extent of the damage was not immediately clear.
ALTADENA >> A fire caused major damage to an Altadena garage and home Friday afternoon, authorities said.
No one was hurt in the fire, which was first reported about 2:30 p.m. in the 2600 block of Lincoln Avenue, Sgt. T. Crosswhite of the sheriff’s Altadena Station said.
The fire started in the garage and spread to the house, officials said.
“It was severe damage,” Crosswhite said. A dollar-value estimate of the damage was not available.
Neighbor Cheryl Branum said she spotted the fire and called 9-1-1.
“I came home for lunch time and smelled smoke in my backyard. It didn’t smell like a chimney smoke or cigarette smoke, and within seconds, a big, huge, black ball of smoke and high flames were shooting over my yard,” Branum said.
“I frantically ran outside and I yelled at the neighbors. And the next think I know, I started hearing popping, exploding, and I called 9-1-1.
“Before you know it, the whole back part of their house was completely engulfed in flames.”
Sheriff’s deputies who arrived on-scene before firefighters grabbed hoses and started trying to put water on the burning home, she said. “My stupid nozzle wouldn’t turn on”.”
A family living in the home managed to get out safely before firefighters arrived, Crosswhite said. They were expected to be displaced from their home for at least one night.
After extinguishing the flames, firefighters teamed with the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail to investigate the cause of the fire, Crosswhite said. The investigation was ongoing late Friday.
Officials also worked to clean the scene and check for any possible hazardous chemicals, as officials recieved intiial reports that there were containers of some type of chemicals stored in the garage, officials said. Further details were not available.
Branum said she was glad no one was injured in the fire.
VIDEO by Walt Mancini
WHITTIER >> A brush fire broke out on a hillside neighboring Rose Hills Memorial Park and Cemetery Saturday, officials said.
The fire was first reported about 5 p.m. just to the east of the memorial park at 3888 Workman Mill Road, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Bernard Peters said.
Firefighters on the ground were joined by three helicopters as they poured water onto the flames, Peters said.
The fire grew to 1-and-a-half acres before fighters declared it extinguished just over an hour after it began, officials said.
No injuries were reported.
SOUTH PASADENA >> Firefighters responded about 4 a.m. to the fire at the single-story house in the 800 block of Kendall Avenue, South Pasadena Fire Department Capt. Chris Szenczi said.
The fire caused an estimated $600,000 worth of damage to the house and it’s contents, however no injuries were reported, the captain said.
Los Angeles firefighters who happened to be nearby arrived first at the scene, and were soon joined by their counterparts in the South Pasadena Fire Department, as well as other nearby fire departments, Scenczi said.
Firefighters extinguished the fire in slightly less than an hour.
The home was vacant following the recent death of resident, Scenczi said. The items inside had been boxed up in preparation to remove them from the home.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, however officials were looking into the possibility the fire was ignited by boxes left on top of a gas floor heater, Szenczi said.
PHOTOS by Rick McClure. GALLERY
BOYLE HEIGHTS >> A tanker truck overturned and burst into flames in Boyle Heights Friday, releasing a river of flaming gasoline that significantly damaged one home and destroyed an SUV before firefighters got the upper hand, officials said.
The tanker fire was first reported about 3:30 p.m. in the 2600 block of 8th Street, just east of Soto Street, according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey.
The driver of the tandem tanker truck driver was entering the 5 Freeway from the 8th Street offramp when the rear trailer overturned and caught fire, Humphrey said. A second fuel tanker being hauled by the truck remained on its wheels.
The driver escaped unscathed from the burning big rig, officials said. The intense fire sent a thick black plume into the air that was visible for miles around.
The “bulk of visible fire” was controlled about an hour after it began, officials said.
Humphrey said the tanker, which had a capacity of 4,800 gallons, was believed to be carrying unknown type of fuel, however further details were not available.
The truck driver was attempting to enter the 5 Freeway from the 8th Street onramp when the mishap occurred, officials said.
The local street and 8th Avenue onramp were expected to remain closed through the afternoon to allow for clean-up, investigation and utility repairs, Humphrey said.
Fuel leaking from the burning tanker produced a “river of fire” that headed downhill, Humphrey said. The fire destroyed an SUV that was parked along the curb.
“There were three homes in the path of the fire,” he said.
The two homes nearest to the fire sustained only cosmetic damage such as singed eves.
But the flow of burning gasoline made its way around the corner and set fire to triplex and some nearby brush, Humphrey said. At least one unit in the subdivided building sustained significant damage, and the residents would be temporarily displaced.
The two tanker trailers being hailed by the truck had a combined capacity of about 9,000 gallons of gasoline, Humphrey said. The rear trailer, which overturned and caught fire, contained about 4,800 gallons of fuel.
Nearly 3,000 gallons of gas leaked from the truck, Humphrey said. The second tanker did not rupture.
Firefighters worked to carefully drill a hole in the overturned tanker and use a vaccuum truck to drain it of an estimated 2,000 gallons of remaining fuel, Humphrey said.
The 8th Street onramp tot he 5 Freeway, as well as a small portion of 8th Street, were expected to remain closed at least through the end of Friday.
The bulk of “visible flames” was extinguished within about 20 minutes, Humphrey said. The fire was declared fully extinguished about 80 minutes after it ignited.
EL MONTE >> A fire damaged a garage attached to an apartment building Thursday, but resulted in no injuries, officials said.
Firefighters first responded to a report of smoke emanating from the 4000 block of La Madera Avenue about 12:30 p.m., Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Randall Wright said.
The first engine to arrive found smoke pouring from the garage, which was attacked to a single-story apartment building, Wright said. Firefighters extinguished the blaze in just over 20 minutes.
No civilians or firefighters were hurt, and no apartment residents were displaced, he said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation. A dollar-value estimate of the damage was not available.
SAN GABRIEL >> A large fire in San Gabriel destroyed a vacant home and a commercial building and sent one person to a hospital with smoke inhalation Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
Firefighters first responded about 1:40 p.m. to a report of a fire in the 500 block of West Norwood Place, San Gabriel Fire Department Division Chief Bryan Frieders said.
“When the first arriving companies got there, the house was fully involved with flames and smoke,” the chief said. The house was vacant.
The fire had also spread into an attached 2,500-square-foot commercial building, which was also believed to be vacant, Frieders said.
Firefighters declared a “second alarm,” bringing about 55 personnel to the scene.
An elderly neighbor was taken to a hospital in good condition after apparently becoming overwhelmed by smoke emanating from the fire, Frieders said.
Officials extinguished the flames in 37 minutes, he said. A portion of the roof of the burning commercial building collapsed during the fire, as well as a wall inside the house.
The house and commercial building were destroyed by the fire, Frieders said, and the value of the damage was estimated to be $600,000.
But firefighters managed to keep the fire from spreading to a second home situated only a few feet away from the first, as well as to a backyard aviary containing more than a dozen birds.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, however investigators noted the structures have had reported issues with squatters in the past.
As firefighters worked to extinguish the Norwood Place fire, a second fire sparked at a nearby liquor store in the 1700 block of New Avenue, Frieders said.
The fire ignited inside the businesses electrical box, and ultimately caused about $30,000 to the store and its contents. It would have been much worse had firefighters not been so close when it started, Frieders said.
The cause of the liquor store fire also remained under investigation Thursday, though officials were looking into the possibility the electrical fire was caused by damage from the first fire, Frieders said. Both businesses are wired to the same electrical pole.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A massive fire fueled by exploding drums of flammable chemicals destroyed three businesses, comprised of five buildings, in Santa Fe Springs Saturday.
A paint company, an epoxy coating company and a machine shop were involved in the four-alarm fire, which broke out about 4:10 p.m. in the 12800 block of Sunshine Avenue, Santa Fe Springs Fire Department Chief Mike Crook said.
Heavy black smoke and flames poured from the building when firefighters arrived, the chief said. Soon after firefighters began pouring water on the flames, 55-gallon drums full of flammable chemicals began exploding, Crook said.
“They started with a pretty aggressive attack,” he said. “Drums were exploding, they were taking off into the air. They pulled back, had to go defensive.”
The drums were both inside and outside several of the burning buildings.
Firefighters from the Los Angeles County, Downey, Compton and Vernon fire departments helped Santa Fe Springs firefighters douse the blaze for more than four hours before it was declared knocked down. Firefighters expected to remain at the scene handling smoldering hot spots into the early morning hours Sunday.
Hazardous materials crews were on-hand to monitor potential hazards, Crook said. No chemicals were detected at dangerous levels in either the air surrounding the perimeter of the fire or the water flowing away from it.
The fire was believed to have originated inside epoxy coating company B.D. Classic Enterprises, Crook said. It was first reported by a custodian working in the business park.
Crook said the fire then spread to the neighboring Life Paint Co. and Robert’s Honing and Gundrilling Inc.
Police shut down nearby streets as firefighters handled the massive fire, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
All three involved businesses were closed at the time the fire broke out, Crook said.
The neighboring businesses were all largely empty, and No evacuations were ordered during the fire, according to Downey Fire Department dispatchers. No injuries were reported to civilians or firefighters.
Though the building were largely destroyed, firefighters worked hard to protect the businesses’ important documents, Crook said. “The guys did a great job of protecting the offices and the records.”
The investigation into the cause of the fire remained in its early stages. A dollar-value estimate of the damage was not available late Saturday.
PHOTO by Mike Mullen
PASADENA >> A fire at a Pasadena auto body shop damaged a garage and destroyed two cars parked inside, causing about $375,000 worth of damage early Saturday, officials said.
The fire broke out just after 7:20 a.m. at Alliance Auto Body. 826 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Firefighters were greeted by heavy smoke and large flames when they arrived and started pouring water onto the burning garage, Derderian said. The burning building was a garage behind the main auto body shop used for auto detailing and prep work, officials added.
Officials declared the fire extinguished about half an hour later, Derderian said. The business was closed at the time of the fire, and no injuries were reported.
Fire officials estimated the fire caused $300,000 worth of damage to the building, and $75,000 in damage to the two cars and other items inside.
Derderian said the destroyed cars were a Volkswagen and a Dodge.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Pasadena Fire Department