As the fires grew in size and began consuming homes Wednesday afternoon, fire departments throughout the region and the state began mobilizing “strike teams” of firefighters to send south to San Diego County.
“We’re assembling a team to help,” Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said. It was not immediately clear how many firefighters would head south, however he said likely at least one strike team of five engines and a battalion chief would be sent to aid their counterparts in San Diego County. No Los Angeles Fire Department aircraft had been sent to San Diego County Wednesday afternoon, Scott said. “They haven’t been requested.”
U.S. Forest Service officials announced 42 engines, two hand crews, two helitankers and one additional firefighting aircraft were sent to help in SSan Diego County, totalling about 265 firefighters.
The Verdugo Unified Command — a coalition of a dozen partnered Los Angeles County fire-fighting agencies including Pasadena, Monrovia, Montebello, Burbank, and Glendale — also began readying a strike team to help battle the San Diego County wildfires, Verdugo Communications Center Dispatch Supervisor Christina Kazazian-Wilson said. A total of five engines, one battalion chief and one battalion chief trainee were en route Wednesday afternoon.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department was just beginning to organize a strike team to send to San Diego County Wednesday afternoon, according to fire department radio traffic.
“We are sending resources to aid with San Diego County wildfire,” LACFD officials confirmed via Twitter. Two Los Angeles County Fire Department hand crews were sent to help, along with a five-engine strike team.
Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters already had their hands full watching out for fires locally, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Scott Miller said, as Los Angeles County remained under a red Flag Warning due to an increased fire danger presented by high temperatures, low humidity levels and high winds. The warning was expected to remain in effect through Thursday night.
“Right now, we’re focused on protecting the County of Los Angeles,” Miller said.
San Bernardino County Fire Department officials also confirmed that a five-engine strike team was en route to San Diego County to help.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.