MONROVIA — A fire sparked be an electric blanket left an elderly couple homeless Sunday morning, authorities said.
The fire was reported about 9:30 a.m. at a single-story house in the 300 block of South Mayflower Avenue, Monrovia police Sgt. Don Newton said.
“The cause of the fire was determined to be a heating blanket in the bedroom, and the residents tried to self extinguish the fire,” Monrovia Fire Department Chief Chris Donovan said. They were unsuccessful, and they were forced out of the room.”
The residents continued trying to extinguish the flames themselves by spraying a garden hose through an external window, also without success, the chief said.
A neighbor called 9-1-1, he said. The home was “fully involved” with flames when firefighters arrived.
Firefighters extinguished the fire and kept it from spreading to other structures, but it was a total loss, Donovan said. They encountered “hoarding conditions” inside the home, which provided ample fuel for the flames.
Officials estimated the fire cause about $250,000 worth of damage to the home and its contents.
Officials were working with the Red Cross and local charities to secure temporary lodging for the displaced couple.
MONTEBELLO — A fire tore through a a Spruce Street home Friday afternoon, officials said.
The fire was reported about 12:30 p.m. at a back house in the 1300 block of South Spruce Street, Montebello Fire Department officials said.
Firefighters found the home fully involved with flames on arrival.
An dollar-value estimate of the damage was not available, and the cause remained under investigation.
No injuries were reported.
WHITTIER — A late-night fire that erupted in the kitchen of Polly’s Pies Thursday caused nearly $1 million worth of damage to the restaurant, officials said.
Firefighters responded to a fire at the restaurant, 14136 E. Whittier Blvd., just after 11:40 p.m., Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Frank Garrido said.
About 50 personnel battle the fire, which was confined to the building’s kitchen and attic, the captain said. The steep construction of the restaurant’s roof presented an additional challenge to firefighters.
One extinguished, officials estimated the fire caused $500,000 worth of damage to the structure, and another $400,000 worth of damage to the contents inside, Garrido said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation.
PHOTO by Craig Harshbarger
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A fire destroyed a Santa Fe Springs cabinet shop and sent an employee to the hospital with second-degree burns, authorities said.
The fire broke out about 3:20 a.m. at Advanced Cabinet Inc., 8214 Sorenson Ave., Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said.
A lone employee at the business suffered burns to his arms and face while trying to douse the flames with a hose, the lieutenant said. The employee, a man in his late-40s, was hospitalized with apparently non-life-threatening injuries.
The business appeared to be a total loss, Ruiz said.
The cause was under investigation by the Santa Fe Springs Fire Department, he added.
MONROVIA — Three men suffered major injuries early Sunday in a fire initially blamed on a small but powerful butane explosion stemming from the processing of marijuana into concentrated hash oil, authorities said.
The fire was first reported about 5 a.m. at a home in the 200 block of East Walnut Avenue, just west of Canyon Boulevard, Monrovia police Sgt. Don Newton said.
“A call came out of a structure fire with subjects trapped inside the house,” Newton said. Callers reported that one of the people inside the home was on fire.
Witnesses also reported hearing what they described as at least one explosion coming from the burning home, police said.
“The explosion was enough to actually move the ceiling and lift the ceiling itself, and move many of the contents of the room around,” Monrovia Fire Department Chief Christopher Donovan said.
Officers and firefighters arrived to find three badly injured burn victims, initially described as men in their 20s, the sergeant said. Two of them had escaped the home themselves prior to the arrival of police or fire, while the third got out just after officials arrived at the scene.
All three men were taken to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, where they were listed in critical condition, Donovan said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, the chief said, however it was initially believed to have been caused by the explosion of one of several spraypaint-sized cans of butane the men were using in a process to extract a concentrated form of hash known as “honey oil” from marijuana.
All three burn victims were in a back bedroom of the home, where the butane was, when it ignited, Donovan added.
Two of the injured men were believed to be residents of the home, Newton said, while the third was believed to be a visitor.
A man and woman who rent space in the home but were unrelated to the burn victims escaped the home without injury, Donovan said. They were inside a room toward the front of the home when the explosion occurred in the rear.
The amount of marijuana found at the home was not available.
Nearby homes were evacuated for several hours following the fire, however residents were allowed to return about 8 a.m., he added.
Officials from nearby police agencies joined Monrovia police and fire officials in the investigation.
PASADENA — Four adults and one child were displaced by a house fire Friday, officials said.
The fire was first reported just before 10:30 a.m. at a two-story home in the 100 block of Santa Barbara Street, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Firefighters found smoke and flames emanating from the second floor of the home, which had been divided from the first floor into a separate unit, she said.
The flames were largely kept contained to the second floor, though the unit beneath sustained smoke and water damage, Derderian said.
Firefighters estimated the fire caused about $175,000 to the home and its contents.
The four adults and one child living there were taken in by extended family, Derderian said. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.
PHOTO courtesy of Jaime Nichols, Pasadena Fire Department
EL SEGUNDO — Pasadena and Arcadia firefighters joined Verdugo Fire Academy recruits over the weekend to practice fighting oil and gas fires at the Chevron Oil Refinery in El Segundo.
The training took place Saturday and Sunday and made use of a “training prop” at the Chevron refinery, Verdugo Fire Academy Chief Sam DiGiovanna said.
About 45 recruits from the Verdugo Fire Academy took part in the training, alongside academy instructors, four firefighters from Pasadena and four from Arcadia, the chief said.
The training provides valuable skills that become necessary whenever dealing with a fire involving gas, oil and valves, he said, such as when a tanker truck caught fire on the Pomona (60) Freeway in Montebello in December of last year, destroying the Paramount Boulevard bridge.
“The recruits get some great training, and so do the firefighters,” DiGiovanna said.
Recruits trained by the Verdugo Fire Academy in Glendale staff fire departments throughout the San Gabriel Valley and Southern California.
PHOTO courtesy of the Verdugo Fire Academy
MONTEREY PARK — An electrical fire at a Monterey Park condominium led police to find an indoor marijuana growing operation Thursday, officials said.
Firefighters responded to a fire shortly before 3 p.m. at 528 N. Chandler Avenue, Monterey Park police officials said in a written statement.
Upon dousing the flames and checking the condominium for possible victims, officials discovered “a large number” of grown marijuana plants, along with chemicals and other items used to grow the pot, according to the police statement.
The number of plants uprooted was not available Sunday.
The fire was determined to be electrical in nature, police said. The electrical system of the home had been illegally re-wired to bypass the electrical meter.
No one was at the home when officials arrived, and the investigation was ongoing.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department hazardous materials team was called to the scene to identify and dispose of any potentially dangerous materials being used at the marijuana grow site.
WEST COVINA — Authorities Sunday released the name of an 82-year-old West Covina man found dead inside his burning home earlier this week.
Ralph Simonian was pronounced dead at the scene of Thursday’s fire, reported just after 11 a.m. in the 900 block of Holiday Drive, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Daniel Machian said.
An autopsy was pending to determine his cause of death, which Lt. Dave Dolson of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau described as, “suspicious.”
Investigators declined to specify what they found at the scene of the charred home that roused their suspicions.
Firefighters responded to the home after a fire alarm sounded and a passer-by called 9-1-1 at roughly the same time, officials said.
The house was well-involved with flames when they arrived and took about half an hour to extinguish, West Covina Fire Department Capt. Scott Gilmore said.
After forcing their way into the home, firefighters found Simonian unconscious in a room toward the rear of the house, Dolson said. They moved him to the home’s backyard, where he was pronounced dead.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Family members could not be reached for comment Sunday.
PASADENA — Despite an electrical fire that destroyed the community center of a Pasadena nonprofit organization, the group plans to continue with its normal activities, including after-school youth programs, Monday, officials said.
The massive fire early Saturday at the facility belonging to Neighbors Acting Together or Helping All, 456. E. Montana Street, gutted the structure and destroyed all of its contents, according to Pasadena police and fire officials.
An investigation determined the fire was accidental, sparked by an electrical problem, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
The nonprofit organization runs a variety of programs designed to benefit the local community,
But coincidentally, NATHA recently leased another space on the same corner at 2011 Lincoln Avenue, NATHA Managing Director Celestine Walker said. The organization was in the process of preparing that new space to be used in place of the destroyed structure.
“We will actually continue our programs on Monday with the young people that come to our after school programs,” Walker said.
“That’s our biggest concern is that there’s no disconnect between us and the people who depend on us every day,” she said.
The community center was also used for purposes such as hosting community meeting or town halls, and is also used by other area organizations, Walker explained.
The newly acquired space is, “smaller, but adequate,” Walker said. “We’re very pleased that we have additional space.
NATHA has already received an outpouring of support from concerned community members, Walker said.
“We certainly want to thank the community for all their communications to us and their willingness to help,” she said.
The organization expected to rebuild the community center, Walker said, however further planning will be carried out in the coming weeks.
The fire caused an estimated $1.75 million worth of damage to the community center, officials said.
Firefighters responded to a fire alarm at the community center shortly after 5 a.m. when they found the building already engulfed in flames, Derderian said.
Due to the apparent instability of the burning structure, firefighters took a defensive stance and poured water on the fire from an outside perimeter, she added. The flames were extinguished in about 45 minutes.