UPDATED: Fast-spreading brush fire erupts in La Verne

LA VERNE >> A brush fire ignited in La Verne and scorched 40 acres before firefighters got it under control, officials said.
La Verne Fire Department officials requested help from their counterparts in the Los Angeles County Fire Department just before 3 p.m. after the fire ignited in the area of Briley Point Road and Williams Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Cheryl Simms said. The fire was burning near homes.
The fire was initially reported as 4-5 acres in size and was spreading quickly through medium to heavy brush, she said.
By 3:40 p.m., Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said the fire had grown to about 10 acres in size and was continuing to burn uphill, threatening homes at the top. Two air tankers were initially summoned to the scene to aid water-dropping helicopters, but cancelled shortly after 4 p.m. as firefighters gained the upper hand on the fire.
“It sounds like it’s dying down a little,” fire Capt. Ron Singleton said. “They’re getting a handle on it.”
But officials again called for reinforcements about 4:30 p.m. as the fire began to flare up once more, drawing a total of 200 firefighters to the incident.
The brush fire grew to 40 acres by Sunday evening, but was 50 percent contained, fire officials announced via Twitter.
Voluntary evacuations were issued for homes along Rodeo Lane, as well as in unincorporated county neighborhoods of Webb Canyon and Live Oak Canyon just to the east, La Verne police Sgt. Justin Newman said.
The voluntary evacuations were lifted shortly before 7 p.m.  as firefighters continued dousing remaining hot spots to ensure the fire didn’t re-ignite, officials said. Firefighters were expected to remain on scene through the night.
A near miss between a fire-fighting aircraft and a Cessna airplane was reported during the fire.
Baseline Road remained closed Sunday evening between Fruit Street in La Verne and Lynoak Avenue in Claremont.
No injuries or property damage were reported.PHOTO courtesy of the La Verne Police Department

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VIDEO: Officials rescue bear cub with jar stuck on head in La Verne


LA VERNE >> Police and animal control officials freed a bear cub who got his head stuck in a plastic jar in an adorable act of heroism caught on video early Saturday.
Officers first received a report about 8:30 a.m. that the young bear was spotted wandering with its head stuck in a large plastic jar in the 2500 block of Jasmine Court, La Verne police officials said.
They encountered the animal hopelessly stuck in the jar after apparently stealing itself a snack.
Police Officer David Weaver held the bear as a California Department of Fish and Wildlife official carefully cut the jar off, as depicted in a video posted to the La Verne Polcie Department’s Facebook page.
Once free, the cub immediately scampered up a tree, ultimately making its way back to the wilderness.
The cub’s mother kept a watchful eye over the rescue effort from a vantage point atop a nearby tree, Lt. Monica Schusse said.
Officials kept close tabs on the mother bear, as well, in case she became aggressive with the rescuers, but she didn’t interfere.

VIDEO/PHOTO courtesy of the La Verne Police Department

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Caution urged after bear fatally attacks dog in La Verne


LA VERNE >> Officials in La Verne reminded residents to be aware of their forest-dwelling neighbors after a bear attacked and killed a pet collie in a residential neighborhood on Wednesday morning.
The attack took place about 3:30 a.m. in the 5400 block of Edgewood Drive, La Verne police officials said in a written statement.
A resident called police to report hearing suspicious noises coming from the garage area of the home, police said.
“Upon arriving at the location, officers observed a large dog with injuries lying on the floor of the garage,” according to the statement.
Officers rushed the badly injured dog to a local animal hospital.
“Hospital staff treated the injuries, which they determined to be consistent with a bear attack,” according to the statement. “However, the dog succumbed to said injuries.”
Police notified the California Department of Fish and Game of the incident, officials said.
“Residents living near the foothills are reminded that it is not uncommon for wildlife to enter residential neighborhoods,” the statement added. “We ask that you be vigilant and take precautions so as not to attract bears and other wildlife.
Officials urged residents took check out information on discouraging bear encounters and tips on what to do if encountering a bear, as well as other wildlife, online at www.wildlife.ca.gov.

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13 students fall ill after ingesting ‘unknown substance’ at Bonita High School in La Verne


LA VERNE >> Thirteen students at Bonita High School in La Verne fell ill Thursday after ingesting an unknown substance, police said.
The incident was first reported about 1:50 p.m. at the campus, 3102 D Street, La Verne police and school officials said.
Students began showing up at the school nurse’s office reporting feeling ill, the lieutenant said. “The students “all appeared to have ingested an unknown substance.”
The 13 students were taken to hospitals as a precaution, some by ambulance, and some by parents, Gonzalez said. Their conditions were not believed to be life-threatening.
Police were continuing their investigation into what exactly the students had ingested, he said. No arrests had been made Thursday afternoon.
“All affected students were assessed by paramedics, appropriate care was administered and parents have been contacted,” Bonita High School Principal Derek Bub said in a written statement. “Due to confidentiality laws, we are only able to release limited information. We are confident that this was an isolated incident that does not pose a continued threat to student safety. We would like to thank La Verne Police and Fire Department for their rapid response.”
No further details were available.

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UPDATED: Pilot and passenger escape serious injury after emergency airplane landing at Pomona Fairplex


POMONA >> Two people walked away with apparently minor injuries after a small airplane crashed or made a hard landing at the Fairplex in Pomona on Wednesday evening.
The incident was first reported at 6:42 p.m. at the Fairplex, which is just across Fairplex Drive from Brackett Field in La Verne, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Cheryl Simms said.
Details of the incident were not yet clear, however, firefighters treated one person for apparently minor injuries, she said.
The single-engine Beechcraft F33A experienced engine failure near Brackett Field, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.
“The pilot made an emergency landing near the race track grandstands,” Gregor said, “Neither of the two people on board was seriously injured.”
“There was substantial damage to the plane, he said.
Pomona police officials received no 911 calls reporting the emergency landing, Lt. Alex Rilloraza said in a written statement.
“The police helicopter was in the area and advised of a possible aircraft down on the property,” according to the lieutenant.
Upon locating the downed airplane,
“Two occupants were in the plane and have reportedly sustained minor injuries only and are walking on their own accord, Rilloraza said. “Both subjects were treated at the scene and released.”
Firefighters also dealt with fuel that was leaking fuel after the incident, police said.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are conducting an investigation, officials said.
FAA records show the airplane is registered to a Rancho Cucamonga man. The aircraft, manufactured in 1977, has a valid flight status through the end of 2018.
The aircraft was heading to Cable Airport in Upland from Selma Airport, Gregor said.
No further details were available.

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UPDATED: La Verne man jailed after pursuit, 5-hour standoff


LA VERNE >> A La Verne man holed up inside his car with what turned out to be a realistic looking pellet gun for about five hours Friday, enduring multiple types of teargas and even a foam-spraying fire hose before a SWAT team pulled him from the vehicle, officials said.
Richard Stamp, 55, was taken into custody just before 10 p.m. following the standoff at Calle Aragon and Via Del Marino, La Verne police Capt. Nick Paz said.
The incident began just before 5 p.m., when a utility crew working along nearby Golden Hills Road spotted a man getting out of a car while brandishing a handgun, the captain said. They reported what they saw to police.
When officers arrived, the suspect got back into his car and drove off, leading police on a short pursuit, Paz said.
He crashed into a fire hydrant around the corner at Calle Aragon and Villa Del Marino but refused to get out of his car.
The Foothill Special Enforcement Team, a SWAT team comprised of officers from several local police departments, was summoned shortly before 6 p.m. to take over the scene at Calle Aragon and Via Del Marino as the suspect continued refusing orders to surrender, Paz said.
The standoff with the suspect, who was presumed to still be armed, continued for about five hours. Nearby homes were evacuated as precaution, and surrounding streets were shut down as the situation continued.
SWAT officers used several different types of teargas in attempts to flush Stamp out of the car with no success, Paz said. He also refused to budge when officers sprayed him with foam from a fire hose.
After using flash-bang grenades and a particularly potent form of teargas to disorient Stamp, SWAT officers rushed the car and took him into custody without further incident, Paz said.
Officers recovered a realistic-looking pellet gun which had been fitted with a scope, as well as an axe and a water pistol, the captain said.
Stamp’s motive for the standoff, as well as his state of mind, remained unclear Friday night.
He was taken to a hospital for examination prior to the booking process.

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UPDATED: Man sought in arson, vandalism spree targeting 6 La Verne businesses


LA VERNE >> Police are seeking a man who went on an arson and vandalism spree targeting six La Verne businesses Tuesday night.
The rampage unfolded shortly before 10 p.m. at a string of businesses along Foothill Boulevard, between Damien Avenue and Baseline Road, La Verne police officials said in a written statement.
Arson suspect photoThe vandal lit a vehicle on fire outside a Molly Maid business, as well as a gazebo at the neighboring business, Outdoor Elegance, and two trash cans at a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant and a 76 gas station across the street, officials said.
He also smashed windows at Outdoor Elgance, Inland Dental and Kiddie Academy, police said. At the diner, he set fire to a grease container.
Mr. D’s Diner was open for business when the suspect lit the grease collector on fire outside the rear of the store.
Employees were unaware of the fire as the man entered the restaurant, gobbled down salad and left without paying his bill. The fire was discovered a short time later and extinguished by employees.
Based on the man’s strange behavior, “We believe he was impaired,” Detective Matthew Hadan said. During the destructive spree, “He was kind of just wandering around, almost aimlessly.”
Hadan said, all of the fired remained relatively small.
“It could have been way worse,” the detective said. “It was very fortunate.”
A dollar-value estimate of the damage caused by the vandal was not available. The motive in the seemingly random destruction was unclear.
Police described the arsonist as a white man, 19 to 20 years old, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, 145 pounds, with black wavy hair.
Anyone with information is asked to contact La Verne police Detective Matthew Hadan at 909-596-1913. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

VIDEO courtesy of the La Verne Police Department.

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Woman struck, killed by train in La Verne


LA VERNE >> A woman died Wednesday afternoon after being struck by a commuter train in La Verne, authorities said.
The westbound Metrolink train struck the woman about 4:20 p.m. on a set of train tracks just west of San Dimas Canyon Road, alongside Arrow Highway, La Verne police Sgt. Cory Leeper said.
Upon arriving to investigate reports of a pedestrian being struck by a train, “officers found a woman on the side of the tracks who was confirmed deceased at the scene by La Verne (Fire Department) paramedics,” Leeper said in a written statement.
No injuries were reported to any of the 93 passengers on board the train, he said.
The woman’s identity was not available pending positive identification and notification of family by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, Leeper said. The investigation was ongoing.
The train was delayed at the scene for about 40 minutes before returning to operation, police said.
Delays of up to 45 minutes continued on the line into the early evening, according to Metrolink.
Any witnesses, or anyone with information, is encouraged to call La Verne police at 909-596-1913.

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Police checkpoint planned in La Verne

LA VERNE >> Police in La Verne will check motorists for sobriety and valid licenses during a checkpoint Friday, officials said.
The checkpoint will be held from 5 p.m. to midnight at an undisclosed location within the city, La Verne police Sgt. Justin Newman said in a written statement.
“Over the course of the past three years, La Verne has had 29 DUI injury collisions harming 30 of our friends and neighbors,” Newman said.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided internally by the La Verne Police Department.

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Doctor from La Verne killed in West Covina car crash


WEST COVINA >> A physician from La Verne died late Friday in a solo-car crash along Cameron Avenue in West Covina, police said.
Delroy Stelmo Hewling, 68, died at the scene of the 7 p.m. crash in the 2600 block of East Cameron Avenue, just east of Citrus Street, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Hewling was at the wheel of a Nissan Maxima that veered to the side of the road and struck a parked Chevrolet Camaro, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said. West Covina Fire Department paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation by the West Covina Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team, Patton said.
Officials were looking into the possibility Hewling may have suffered a medical problem prior to the crash. His cause of death was to be determined by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
According to California Medical Board records, Hewling practiced medicine out of an office in West Covina.
He graduated the University of the West Indies in Jamaica in 1971, and was first licensed to practice medicine in California in 1981, records show.

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