Firefighters make quick work of fire at Montebello condominium complex

MONTEBELLO — A fire tore through a condominium at a large Montebello complex Wednesday afternoon, but was extinguished by firefighters before it could spread to other units, authorities said.
The fire was reported at 1:53 p.m. in a second-floor unit of a two-story, multi-unit condominium complex in the 1600 block of Neil Armstrong Street, Verdugo Fire Communications Center Dispatch Supervisor Lynda Sims said.
The first firefighters on-scene declared a second-alarm and called for reenforcements, however they quickly got control of the flames, Sims said. Officials declared the fire “knocked down” at 2:12 p.m.
No injuries were reported to civilians or firefighters, Sims said. It was not immediately clear if the unit was occupied when the fire broke out.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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Arcadia apartment building fire displaces 13, injures one

ARCADIA >> A fire at an Arcadia apartment building displaced 13 people, injured one and caused about $300,000 worth of damage, officials said.
The fire was reported at 1:43 a.m. at an apartment building in the 600 block of Windsor Road, Arcadia Fire Department spokeswoman Beth Stogner said in a written statement.
“Upon their arrival, firefighters encountered heavy fire and smoke coming from an upstairs unit of an eight unit apartment building,” Stogner said. “The unit of origin was fully involved in fire, which had extended into the attic space.”
Firefighters managed to extinguish the flames in about 20 minutes, she said.
All 13 residents of the apartment complex got out of the burning building before firefighters arrived.
“One occupant was transported to a local hospital for smoke inhalation and minor cuts,” Stogner said.
The Red Cross was summoned to help the displaced residents find lodging.
Fire officials estimated the fire caused $250,000 worth of damage to the building, and another $50,000 to items stored inside.
The fire ignited in a sleeping area and was initially believed to be accidental, though the specific cause remained under investigation.

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UPDATED: Fire scorches shed, two houses, vegetation in South Whitter

SOUTH WHITTIER >> A fire scorched a shed, two homes and a small patch of vegetation Friday afternoon before firefighters extinguished the flames, officials said.
The fire was first reported about 4:35 p.m. in the 11800 block of South Colima Road, just south of Leffingwell Road, in an unincorporated county area just south of Whittier, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Cheryl Sims said.
Initially reported as a possible garage fire, firefighters arrived to find a shed and a small patch of vegetation on fire, Sims said. The fire also involved downed power and phone wires.
Firefighters extinguished the fire within about half an hour, though it was not declared officially “knocked down” for about an hour, Sims said. Firefighters summoned Southern California Edison and Verizon officials to take care of the damaged wiring.
No injuries were reported.
The fire was initially believed to have started in the shed, Gama said. It spread to a power pole, causing it to topple, spark and further spread the fire.
The shed sustained about $4,000 worth of damage, Gama said. A nearby home sustained about $10,000 worth of exterior damage, and another sustained about $6,000 worth of damage, but both remained inhabitable.
The cause of the fire was under investigation, Sims said.
About 40 residents of 10 nearby homes were briefly evacuated as a precaution, however they were able to return home shortly, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Ralph gama said.
Officials were preparing to use Los Altos Elementary School as an evacuation shelter, however that did not become necessary, according to sheriff’s and South Whittier School District officials.
“We had volunteers at the ready as well as food and water,” SWSD Associate Superintendant Michael Krause said in an email. “We will always be available to help our community in times of need.”

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Crash involving fire trucks and restaurant in Monterey Park injures 15, one critically

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MONTEREY PARK >> Six firefighters and nine civilians were injured, one of them critically, Wednesday after two fire engines collided in a Monterey Park intersection, sending one of them careening into a dim sum restaurant, authorities said.
The crash, which involved a Monterey Park Fire Department fire engine and an Alhambra Fire Department ladder truck, was first reported about 3:15 p.m. at the Lu Dumpling House, at the southeast corner of Garfield and Emerson avenues, according to Monterey Park police and fire officials.
The critically injured civilians was taken to a trauma center, Monterey Park Fire Department Chief Jim Birrell said. The other eight civilians’ injuries were believed to be minor.
Three Alhambra firefighters and two Monterey Park firefighters suffered minor injuries in the crash, while another Monterey Park firefighter suffered injuries described as moderate, Monterey Park fire Capt. Matt Hallock said.
Both vehicles were rushing to the scene of a house fire toward the southern end of Monterey Park when the crash occurred, officials said. The East Los Angeles office of California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision.
The Monterey Park engine was eastbound on Emerson Avenue just prior to the crash, and the Alhambra Fire Department ladder truck was southbound on Garfield Avenue, CHP Officer Doris Peniche said.
“They both had their full lights and sirens on as they approached the intersection,” Peniche said. “They collided, causing one of the engines to crash into the building.
The critically injured man was believed to be inside the restaurant when it was struck, authorities said. A further description was not available.
It was unclear whether the other eight civilians who were hurt were inside the restaurant.
The firefighter who suffered moderate injuries had been driving the Monterey Park fire engine, Hallock said.
Firefighters involved in the crash hopped off the damaged trucks and began tending to injured, he added.
The vehicles easily weigh more than 70,000 pounds each, Hallock said.
The fire truck remained lodged halfway into the restaurant late Wednesday afternoon, and it was not immediately clear if the restaurant had sustained structural damage.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department urban search and rescue team assisted their counterparts from the Monterey Park, Alhambra, Pasadena, San Gabriel, Burbank and Glendale fire departments at the scene.
Though the involved trucks came from different agencies, they often work together under a regional assistance plan and are dispatched by the same Glendale-based center.
Hallock described Wednesday’s collision as “highly unusual” and “highly unfortunate.”
While firefighters often rush to emergency calls, “we train to drive cautiously and arrive at the scene safely,” he said.
When a fire department emergency vehicle is en route to a call with emergency lights and sirens activated, procedure is to enter the intersection at a safe speed and make sure the intersection is clear before proceeding, Birrell said.
“This is the first time in my career — 30 years — that I’ve witnessed an accident like this,” the chief said.

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UPDATED: Fire scorches Santa Fe Springs food manufacturing plant

SANTA FE SPRINGS — A fire scorched a food manufacturing plant in Santa Fe Springs before firefighters doused the flames Saturday afternoon, officials said.
The fire was first reported at 1:33 p.m. at Day-Lee Foods, Inc., 13055 E. Molette Street, a Santa Fe Springs Fire Department dispatcher said.
Both Santa Fe Springs and Los Angeles County firefighters worked the fire, as it occurred near the border between Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk, officials said. They declared the fire “knocked down” at 1:54 p.m.
About employees evacuated themselves from the burning building prior to firefighters’ arrival, Santa Fe Springs Fire Department Division Chief Mike Yule said. No injuries were reported.
Officials determined the fire ignited as employees were moving an air conditioning unit atop the building when they accidentally ruptured a pipe carrying 500-degree oil used to cook tuna fish, the chief said. The oil caught fire, spreading flames to the roof.
Firefighters managed to keep the fire confined to the roof of the building and a single maintenance room, he added.
The fire caused an estimated $30,000 to $50,000 worth of damage, Yule said.
The plant manufactures food products for sales in stores and restaurants, according to its website.

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Fire leads officials to marijuana grow house in Arcadia

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Arcadia police is investigating a marijuana “grow house” found Monday during an electrical fire call, Sgt. Jason Davis said.
Arcadia fire and police responded to a call at 8:49 a.m. about a transformer on fire at a residence in the 2400 block of Louise Avenue, Davis said.
When first responders arrived, they found a small roof fire caused by wires, officials said.
“In an attempt to locate persons inside the residence and get them to safety, officers made entry into the house and observed numerous marijuana plants in different stages of cultivation,” Davis said in a written statement. Officers then summoned detectives to the scene.
“Detectives searched the residence and recovered 2,489 live marijuana plants along with sophisticated growing equipment used for the cultivation of the crops,” Davis said.
Additionally, police found the home’s wiring had been rewired to bypass the Southern California Edison meter, effectively stealing it’s electricity from the utility, police said.
An SCE officials estimated between $16,000 and $20,000 worth of power had been stolen by the grow house, Davis said.
No one was at the home at the time of the fire, and no suspects had been arrested, police said.
Anyone with information, call the Arcadia Police Department at 626-574-5150. Anonymous tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-222-8477.

PHOTO courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department

- Venusse Navid and Brian Day

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Altadena bungalow scorched by fire

ALTADENA — A bungalow was destroyed in an early morning fire Friday along Ganesha Avenue in Altadena, officials said.
The fire was reported about 3:30 a.m. in the 2400 block of Ganesha Avenue, Sgt. Daniel Tobin of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail said.
The building, along with three other bungalows situated on the same lot that were not damaged, were vacant for renovations, the sergeant said.
The cause of the fire had not been determined Friday afternoon, however it was not initially considered suspicious, Tobin said.
He “conservatively” estimated that the fire caused tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

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95-year-old man killed in Pasadena duplex fire identified

PASADENA — Officials Wednesday released the name of a 95-year-old man who was found dead after a fire tore through his duplex late Friday.
Abel McDaniel died at the scene of the fire, which was reported about 11:40 p.m. at his home in the 100 block of Carlton Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
An autopsy had been performed, however a cause of death had not been determined pending the results of further tests, Winter said.
Officials rushed to the burning duplex after family members of McDaniel, who live in the adjoining unit, noticed the smoke and fire, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said. Family members had tried to rescue the man themselves, but were overcome by the smoke and flames.
The cause of the fire was determined to be electrical, and it was ruled an accident, she said.
Officials described McDaniel as a longtime Pasadena resident known as “Mr. Mac” who was known to sit on a white lawn chair in his front yard and greet neighbors.
The fire caused an estimated $300,000 worth of damage.

- Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

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Fire scorches West Covina home

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WEST COVINA — A fire blamed on a roofing mishap damaged a West Covina home and displaced the family that lived inside it Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
No injuries were reported in the fire, which broke out about 1:15 p.m. and scorched a two-story home in the 1000 block of West Puente Avenue, just west of Vincent Avenue, West Covina Fire Department Chief Rick Genovese said.
Officials estimated the damage to the home and it’s contents at more than $100,000, however the residents all escaped unharmed, the chief said.
A resident was carrying out roofing work on an eve between the first and second floors when the fire ignited, Genovese said.
“He was using a propane torch to heat up roofing material,” he said. “It appears at this point the insulation caught first.”
Genovese said the resident ripped up shingles and attempted to extinguish the fire himself, but called 9-1-1 as it continued to spread through the roof of the home and into the walls.
The man, along with his wife and children, had gotten out of the burning home before firefighters arrived, which was within four minutes of the initial 9-1-1 call, Genovese said.
The Red Cross was summoned to help the displaced family find temporary lodging, he added. The families pet dogs appeared to have run off during the commotion, but were not believed to have been injured in the fire.

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Colby Fire continues to smolder; Mountain Cove evacuations to be lifted

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Firefighters continued strengthening containment lines around the 1,906-acre Colby Fire smoldering in the foothills at the northern edge of the San Gabriel Valley Saturday as the last remaining evacuees from Azusa received word they could return home.
The wildfire was 61 percent contained Saturday, leaving firefighters with eight miles of containment lines yet to complete, Angeles National Forest officials said.
Residents of the Mountain Cove neighborhood of Azusa — the only neighborhood still under evacuation orders Saturday — were advised they could return to their homes at 6 p.m. And officials announced the fire was expected to be fully contained by Wednesday.
“Today’s fire operations will be primarily focused on reinforcing containment lines along the fire’s northern perimeter and cooling hot spots,” ANF spokeswoman Jamie Uyehara said.
“There were some flare-ups last night,” Uyehara said. Firefighters also lit controlled burns overnight to clear excess fuel from the path of fire.
Firefighters made “excellent progress” overnight, “taking advantage of the lower temperatures and favorable wind conditions to successfully perform firing operations and reinforce containment lines where possible while working in steep rocky terrain,” U.S. Forest Service officials said in a written statement.
“The fire growth potential is medium,” the forest service statement said. “Fuels remain extremely dry and humidity anticipated in the single digits. Winds are expected to be lower than yesterday at 10 to 15 mph.”
Firefighters worked Saturday in temperatures around 87 degrees.
More than 1,100 personnel continued working the fire Saturday, including 45 hand crews, 104 fire engines and four bulldozers, officials added.
Three water-dropping helicopters and four air tankers were also on-hand should they be needed, though they were also available to be called upon to fight fires elsewhere, Uyehara said.
In addition to fire fighting aircraft, the skies above the fire were occupied with helicopters being operated by Southern California Edison to replace power poles damaged by the fire, Uyehara said.
“The incident team was able to save some of the other poles,” she added.
Despite damage to the electrical infrastructure, only 33 SCE customers were without power in Azusa and Glendora Saturday, according to the utility. All power was expected to be restored by Saturday afternoon.
The fire destroyed five homes in Glendora and damaged 17 other structures since it ignited just before 6 a.m. Thursday near the Colby Trail. Three young men have been arrested on suspicion of starting the fire with a campfire that got out of control and are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail each pending their initial appearances in federal court.

Firefighters light backfires to protect power poles during the Colby Fire early Saturday, Jan. 18, 2013. (Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)

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