Highway Fire sends smoke throughout region

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA >> Smoke from the nearly 1,000-acre Highway Fire burning near Prado Dam on the border of Chino and Corona is creating a potential smoke hazard for surrounding communities, South Coast Air Quality Management District officials cautioned Sunday.
The fire, which has scorched 980 acres and was 25 percent contained Sunday afternoon, was expected to create “heavy smoke throughout the area, potentially for several days,” AQMD officials said in a written statement.
The smoke was expected to be pushed by onshore winds toward the central San Bernardino Mountains Sunday, officials said.
“Current air quality measurements are mostly in the Moderate category throughout the Inland Empire and the remainder of the
Basin, but localized areas may reach the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups level, or higher, at times, depending on winds and containment of the fire,” according to the AQMD statement.
The most-impacted areas include the western and central San Bernardino Valley and the Norco-Corona area.
Officials urged children, the elderly and residents in the affected areas suffering from respiratory or heart disease to stay indoors. Everyone in the area should avoid vigorous exertion.
“Run your air conditioner if you have one,” the statement said. “Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside. To avoid worsening the health effects of wildfire smoke, don’t use indoor or outdoor wood-burning appliances, including fireplaces.”

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Firefighters extinguish small brush fire in Azusa

VIDEO of water drop (courtesy of the Azusa Police Department)


AZUSA >> Firefighters made quick work of a brush fire along the San Gabriel River Trail in Azusa early Sunday, extinguishing it before it grew beyond one-and-a-half acres in size, authorities said.
The fire was first reported about 5:45 a.m. in the riverbed adjacent to the San Gabriel River Trail, according to Azusa police Cpl. Nick Covarrubias.
0420_SGT-L-AZFIRE2“The fire burned approximately one and a half acres and was fought by ground and air crews from the Los Angeles County Fire Department,” Covarrubias said in a written statement. “It took crews approximately one hour to extinguish the fire.”
The cause remained under investigation, and anyone with information was asked to contact the Azusa Police Department.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Azusa Police Department

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UPDATED: Fire guts Glendora house, kills dog

GLENDORA >> A fire caused major damage to a family’s Glendora home Saturday and killed the family’s dog, authorities said.
The fire ignited about 11:30 a.m. at a single-story house in the 1700 block of South Bender Avenue, Glendora police Lt. Rob Lamborghini said.
A young woman who was home at the time did not realize the house was on fire until her brother arrived home and discovered the smoke and flames, the lieutenant said. Both got out of the home unharmed.
Flames gutted the majority of the home, sparing only the attached garage, Lamborghini said.
A small dog died in the fire, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. David Lopez said.
Firefighters extinguished the fire in about 30 minutes, he said.
A firefighter suffered a minor shoulder injury during the incident, Lopez said.
It was believed to have been sparked by an electrical malfunction in a patio room at the rear of the home, Lopez said.
The fire caused an estimated $250,000 worth of damage to the home, and another $9,000 in damage to items inside of it, the captain said.
Police provided the displaced family with motel vouchers and summoned the Red Cross to assist them, Lamborghini added.

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Pasadena condominiums scorched in fire

PASADENA >> Two condominium units sustained significant damage in a fire Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
No one was hurt during the fire, which ignited out about 5:15 p.m. at a five-unit strip of condominiums in the 600 block of North Wilson Avenue, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Firefighters declared a second alarm before extinguishing the fire about 30 minutes after it began, she said. The cause remained under investigation.
The two burned units were expected to remain uninhabitable for an extended period of time, Derderian said. The Red Cross responded to help the displaced residents find temporary lodging.
The residents of the other three units were expected to be able to return to their homes once utilities had been restored.
PHOTO courtesy of the Pasadena Fire Department
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Fire scorches Pasadena garage


PASADENA >> A fire tore through a residential garage late Friday, causing $165,000 worth of damage but resulting in no injuries, authorities said.
The fire was first reported about 7 p.m. in the garage of a home in the 700 block of South San Rafael Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Jesse Carrillo said.
About 20 firefighters quickly doused the flames, according to Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian.
The fire did not spread from the detached garage to the home, and the residents were not displaced, officials said. No injuries were reported.
Officials estimated the fire caused $100,000 worth of damage to the garage, $50,000 in damage to items stored inside and $15,000 in damage to a vehicle.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.

PHOTO courtesy of the Pasadena Fire Department

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Arcadia convalescent home evacuated due to smoke

ARCADIA >> Firefighters evacuated 50 convalescent home patients unable to walk on their own Friday after a malfunctioning air-conditioning unit filled the facility with smoke, officials said. No injuries were reported.
The smoke was first reported about 7:45 a.m. at the Arcadia Health Care Center, 1601 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia Fire Department Beth Stogner said in a written statement.
Firefighters from Arcadia surrounding cities arrived at the convalescent home to find light smoke emanating from the building, and staff already in the process of evacuating 50 “non-ambulatory” patients, Stogner said.
Firefighters traced the source of the smoke to a malfunctioning air-conditioning unit, Stogner said. Officials immediately shut off the unit and summoned a technician.
Stogner said firefighters then used blowers to clear the smoke from the building.
“Within the hour, the smoke was evacuated and carbon monoxide levels were reduced to zero, allowing patients and staff to reoccupy the building,” she said.

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Exact cause of double-fatal Altadena house fire ‘undetermined’

ALTADENA >> The specific cause of an explosive house fire that killed an elderly woman and her son earlier this month remains a mystery, though investigators were certain it was accidental, officials said.
Through X-ray comparison, officials Thursday confirmed the identities of Betty Kopp, 85, and her 58-year-old son Robert “Bob” Kopp, who died in the March 7 fire at the home they shared with three roommates in the 2400 block of Holliston Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said. They had previously been identified by a roommate, but their official identifications were delayed to to the conditions of their remains.
After a detailed analysis of the scene of the fatal fire, investigators were unable to determine exactly what sparked the fire, Detective Cynthia Valencia of the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail said. The officials cause is listed as “undetermined.”
Investigators have determined the fire started in a bedroom toward the rear of the house where Betty Kopp, who was confined to bed and used oxygen tanks, Valencia said.
And it was clear that the fire was fueled by the oxygen, she said Two of at least eight tanks at the home exploded in the fire.
Nonetheless, “We don’t know exactly what ignited it,” Valencia said.
But the massive fire was so intense it scorched any evidence investigators may have been able to use to narrow down a more specific cause, the detective said.
“It is accidental. We know that,” Valencia said. “There wasn’t any malicious intent.”
Two of the Kopps’ roommates were treated for minor injuries following the fire, officials said.

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UPDATED: Elderly woman, son killed in Altadena house fire

ALTADENA >> An elderly woman and her son lost their lives and two other people were hurt in a fire at their home late Saturday, authorities said.
The fire, which gutted the home, was first reported about 10:20 p.m. at the single-story home in the 2400 block of Holliston Ave., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Randy Tuinstra said.
Sheriff’s officials described the victims as a 85-year-old woman and her 58-year-old son.
Neighbor identified them as Betty and Robert “Bob” Kopp.
Authorities did not release the victims’ names Sunday pending positive identification of the badly burned remains, coroner’s Investigator Dana Bee said.
Phillip Marin said he rented a room in the Kopp’s home, along with two other roommates.
0309_NWS_PSN-L-FATALFIRE3Marin was standing in the backyard of the home when an explosion blew out a sliding glass door at the rear of the house.
The explosion was believed to have been caused by oxygen tanks used by the elderly woman, according to sheriff’s officials and neighbors.
The house was quickly engulfed in flames, Marin said.
“I tried to get in, but I couldn’t,” he said.
The two other renters managed to get out of the home, he said. But the woman and her son, who used a wheelchair, did not.
Flames and smoke poured out of most, if not all, of the homes’ windows, county fire 0309_NWS_PSN-L-FATALFIRE4Capt. Brian Jordan said. It took firefighters about 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze.
Once the fire was out, firefighters discovered the bodies, Tuinstra said.
The two renters who got out of the home were taken to a hospital with apparently minor injuries, the captain said.
The fifth resident of the home, Marin, suffered no injuries.
“There was smoke all the way down the street,” neighbor Ray Martin said.
“The fire department got here and just knocked it down in a hurry,” he added.
0309_NWS_PSN-L-FATALFIRE5The cause of the fire remained under investigation, investigators found nothing suspicious at the scene, sheriff’s officials said.
“Though it’s under investigation, it appears accidental,” Jordan said.
A scorched wheelchair, the handset from a wireless home telephone and eight oxygen canisters sat in the front yard of the home Sunday. One of the canisters had ruptured in half.
The fire was first reported by a neighbor, Jordan said. The home had no working smoke alarms and was equipped with security bars on its windows.
Marin said he’d known Bob Kopp for more than a decade.
Bob Kopp took care of his mother, Marin said. “He was a nice guy.”
Marin was caring for Bob Kopp’s pet cat and cockatiel until animal control officials could make permanent arrangements for the animals.
0309_NWS_PSN-L-FATALFIRE2Fire officials estimated the fire caused $700,000 worth of damage.
The Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail was handling the investigation, and anyone with information was asked to contact investigators at 323-881-7500.

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Fire scorches Pasadena home

PASADENA >> A fire scorched a Pasadena home Thursday, causing an estimated $300,000 worth of damage, officials said.
Three residents, including an elderly woman, were at home when the fire broke out about 1:30 p.m. at the split-level house in the 1700 block of Kaweah Drive, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said. But they got out of the home uninjured before firefighters arrived.
About 40 firefighters from the Pasadena, South Pasadena and Glendale fire departments extinguished the stubborn fire in about 45 minutes, she said. The fire had worked it’s way well into the walls of the home.
It sparked on the bottom floor of the split-level home, Derderian said. The cause was determined to be a malfunctioning forced-air heating unit.
No other structures were damaged.
Officials estimated the blaze caused about $200,000 worth of damage to the home, and another $100,000 worth of damage to its contents, Derderian said.
Red Cross officials responded to the scene to help the displaced residents find temporary housing.

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CHP: Alhambra fire engine at fault in collision with Monterey Park fire engine last year


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

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