MONTEBELLO >> A homeless man who sparked a 384-acre wildfire in the Rio Hondo Riverbed in Montebello last year pleaded “no contest” Thursday to a charge of recklessly causing a fire, prosecutors said.
Arturo Miallan Aguilar, 46, was immediately sentenced to a year in county jail and three years of probation and ordered to attend a year-long live-in drug treatment program after entering the plea in Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. A restitution hearing was yet to be scheduled.
Aguilar sparked the fire while cooking food in the riverbed near the Whittier Narrows Reservoir about 1:30 p.m. Aug. 16, Montebello police Lt. Michael Bergman said.
The blaze quickly exploded out of control, ultimately scorching 384 acres in Montebello and nearby unincorporated county area before firefighters contained it days later. No structures were damaged.
Four firefighters suffered minor injuries while fighting the fire, including three who were hurt when a helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing at Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary in Whittier, and one who suffered heat exhaustion, officials said.
PHOTOS: [TOP] A fast moving brush,tree and bamboo fire spreads through out the Whittier Narrows Recreation area south of the 60 Freeway, Sunday, August 16, 2015. (Mike Mullen photo) [MIDDLE] Seen from Irwindale on the 605 Freeway, a fast moving brush,tree and bamboo fire spreads through out the Whittier Narrows Recreation area south of the 60 Freeway, Sunday, August 16, 2015. (Mike Mullen photo) [BELOW] A “Super Scooper” Quebec 1 scoops water to fight the Lincoln Fire burning in Montebello Hills as people cool off in the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale on Sunday, August 16, 2015. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda/ San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
GLENDORA >> Firefighters pronounced a person dead after extinguishing an intense fire at a Glendora mobile home Thursday, authorities said. Authorities initially feared two people had been killed in the fire, though it was ultimately determined that a single person perished in the blaze.
The identity of the victim was not released pending positive identification and notification of family, Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said. The person was initially described only as an adult.
Officials first received a 911 call at 11:32 a.m. reporting a 30-foot-long fifth-wheel trailer was on fire at the Tropics Trailer Park, 428 E. Route 66, Glendora police Lt. Matt Williams said.
Los Angeles County Firefighters arrived in 8 minutes and extinguished the flames by 11:53 a.m., the lieutenant said.
“The initial information from the joint investigation indicated there were two victims,” Glendora police offiials said in a written statement. “Upon the arrival of the Los Angeles County Coroner, the search of the trailer continued and only one victim was located.”
One adjacent mobile home sustained damage in the fire, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Randall Wright said.
The resident of the damaged unit was displaced, but unharmed.
No firefighters were injured, Wright added.
Firefighters found the victim during their initial efforts to extinguish the fire, Williams said.
A secondary search turned what was initially believed to be additional remains, though a closer inspection revealed the object was actually debris, officials said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, however, there were no signs of a crime, Williams said.
“It’s too early in the investigation to know what happened,” he said.
A distraught woman at the scene said she believed the victim to be her brother and awaited information from authorities. She declined to comment further.
Investigators from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail joined Glendora police in the investigation.
With the exception of the two scorched units, the residents of the 29-space mobile home park were allowed to return to their homes Thursday afternoon, Williams said.
Eastbound Route 66 remained closed to traffic into the afternoon as the investigation continued.
PHOTO/VIDEO by Walt Mancini
WHITTIER >> A fire destroyed a carport and singed two apartments in Whittier Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The fire broke out about 3:25 p.m. in the 8200 block of Painter Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Battalion Chief Art Ellis said.
Firefighters extinguished the flames in about 20 minutes, he said. No one was hurt.
Ellis estimated the fire caused about $40,000 worth of damage. The carport, where the fire originated, was destroyed. But fortunately, the chief said, it contained no vehicles.
Two adjacent apartments sustained minor damage as well.
Firefighters noted some circumstances which they deemed suspicious, Ellis said. One resident reported hearing popping sounds just before the fire ignited.
An arson investigator was summoned to the scene to look into the cause of the blaze.
PHOTO by Keith Durlinger
EL MONTE >> Coroner’s officials have identified two siblings killed in a fire at their El Monte home a month ago.
Margarita Dennis, 73, died a hospital following the fire, which was first reported shortly after 10 p.m. Nov. 5 at a home in the 12300 block of Felipe Street, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
Her brother, 61-year-old David Gutierrez, died at the scene, coroner’s officials said.
Their officials identifications were delayed due to the condition of the remains, as well as efforts to notify family members.
An autopsy determined Dennis died from smoke inhalation and burns, and the death was ruled accidental, coroner’s officials said. Gutierrez’s cause of death was yet to be determined pending the results of forensic tests.
The siblings lived at the home with another brother, who escaped the fire unharmed, officials said.
The house was destroyed by the fire, which firefighters extinguished 21 minutes after being summoned to the scene.
Handling detectives at the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Bureau could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The cause of the fire was unavailable.
PASADENA >> A fire erupted in a Pasadena garage Friday, burning two people and spreading to a second nearby garage, authorities said.
The fire broke out about 2:50 p.m. in a residential garage in the 1200 block of North Hill Avenue, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Firefighters declared a “second alarm” as the flames quickly grew, spreading to an adjacent garage on Wesley Avenue just to the east, spewing thick smoke into the air.
A man and woman in their 50s were treated for burn injuries, Derderian said.
Paramedics hospitalized the man in serious condition,while the woman suffered apparently minor injuries, Derderian said.
Joshua Manson was driving home from work down Hill and happened to glance towards the house on his left and saw smoke. He backed up and saw fire from the structure of the back of a house.
He said he saw an elderly man walking away from the burning garage with burns on his hands and his hair. The elderly man wanted to go back in the structure.
“We were trying to get him to come out because he was trying to go back,” Manson said. “After that we searched (the house) and there was on elderly lady in there.”
Manson said he and other good Samaritans made sure there was no one else in the structure.
A neighbor, described as a man in his 60s, suffered a shoulder injury while trying to help, Derderian said.
The cause of the initial garage fire remained under investigation, she said. It appeared the first fire may have caused power lines to fall, sparking the second garage to catch fire.
The Hill Avenue garage appeared destroyed by the fire, while the garage on Wesley Avenue sustained “significant” damage, Derderian said
- Brian Day and Claudia Palma
PHOTOS courtesy of the Pasadena Fire Department.
EL MONTE >> A house fire in El Monte left one person dead and another critically injured late Thursday, authorities said.
The fire ignited just after 10 p.m. at a single-story house in the 12300 block of Felipe Street, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Kyle Sanford said.
Firefighters found the home “fully involved” with flames on arrival, he said.
Two people were pulled from the burning home, officials said.
Paramedics pronounced one patient dead at the scene, Sanford said. No description of the victim was available.
A second victim, described as an elderly woman, was pulled from the home in “full arrest,” Sanford said. Paramedics rushed her to a hospital for treatment.
Firefighter encountered a third person at the home, though that person did not appear to be injured, Sanford said.
Officials declared the fire extinguished 23 minutes after it was first reported.
ALTADENA >> Deputies rushed into a smoke-filled house Thursday and rescued an 8-year-old dog trapped inside, officials said.
Los Angeles County firefighters and deputies responded to reports of a fire shortly after 2 p.m. at a home in the 600 block of East Sacramento Street. Deputies arrived first.
“When we got there, smoke was showing, coming out of the doorways and the roof area,” sheriff’s Sgt. Kim Shelton said.
“Deputies were able to make entry,” she said. Officials did not know at the time whether any victims, human or otherwise, were trapped in the smoke-filled house.
The deputies found no people inside, but encountered “Roxy,” an 8-year-old dog, Shelton said. They removed Roxy, who was very eager to get out, from the home safely. The dog was uninjured.
A resident of the home arrived a short time later, Shelton said. He was grateful that Roxy was OK.
Authorities determined a blanket strewn across the floor grate of a heating unit had begun melting, charging the home with smoke, Shelton said.
Officials arrived before the smoldering blanket spread to the structure itself.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
COVINA >> A fire erupted in a Covina warehouse early Saturday, where first-responders discovered marijuana plants growing inside, officials said.
Firefighters responded about 8:31 a.m. to reports of a fire in a commercial building in the 1000 block of East Edna Place, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Cheryl Simms said.
• Video: Firefighters work to put out a Covina warehouse fire
The first firefighters to arrive called for backup to combat the flames in the 100-foot by 200-foot structure, Simms said. About 75 firefighters in all attacked the blaze.
• Photos: Covina warehouse fire
Firefighters “knocked down” the fire just over two hours after it began, officials said.
Two firefighters suffered minor medical issues while fighting the fire, Inspector Randall Wright said.
The building was subdivided into two units, Covina police Sgt. Ryan Davis said.
Once the fire was out, officials discovered that one of the units was being used to grow marijuana, he said.
It was unclear how much marijuana was being grown, as police had yet to enter the building Saturday afternoon due to concerns over structural instability, the sergeant said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation. It was unclear whether the marijuana-growing operation played a role in lighting the fire.
PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
AZUSA >> A fire tore through a commercial building in Azusa Friday night, authorities said.
The fire was first reported about 7 p.m. in the 500 block of South Vincent Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Art Marrujo said.
“Our first-in engine company had smoke and fire coming in through the roof,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Randall Wright said. “Very quickly, we asked for a second alarm,” bringing additional firefighters to the scene.
Portions of the roof of the building collapsed, he said.
They took a “defensive” stance from the outside of the building as they continued dousing the flames with water more than an hour later, fire Dispatch Supervisor Kyle Sanford said.
The fire was fueled by a large amount of paper stored inside the building, described as a paper manufacturing business, Wright said. There were no reports of hazardous materials involved.
Firefighters positioned on ladders well above the fire pumped 3,000 gallons of water per minute onto the burning building, officials said.
Authorities declared the fire extinguished about 8:15 p.m., but expected firefighters to remain on scene well into the night, Wright said.
Paramedics treated one person who suffered minor smoke inhalation injuries, but the person declined to be taken to a hospital, Sandford said.
Azusa police shut down Vincent Avenue between Arrow Highway and Gladstone Street as a result of the fire.
Investigators were summoned to the scene to determine the cause of the fire.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
PASADENA >> Firefighters quickly extinguished a grass fire along the 210 Freeway in Pasadena Friday, and authorities investigated reports the fire may have been intentionally set.
The fire broke out just after 2:10 p.m. along the eastbound 210 Freeway, just west of Madre Street, according to Pasadena Fire Department officials said California Highway Patrol logs.
Officials extinguished the flames within minutes, confining the fire to less than 50 square feet in size.
At least one witness reported seeing a man intentionally light the fire and walk away, according to CHP logs.
The possible arsonist was described as a white man wearing a white T-shirt and blue basketball shorts.
No suspects were in custody as the investigation continued Friday afternoon.