SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A massive and stubborn fire erupted at a Santa Fe Springs recycling center Thursday afternoon and burned through the night, authorities said.
The fire was first reported about 6:20 p.m. at a recycling center in the 14000 block of Marquardt Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Cheryl Sims said.
“We received a report of a large outdoor yard fire, with a structure involved,” Sims said.
The business recycles paper and cardboard goods, said Downey Fire Department Capt. Eric Danieri.
Firefighters from throughout the area rushed to assist as the intense five-alarm fire tore its way through the facility, fueled by bales of cardboard, according to Battalion Chief Bruce English of the Downey Fire Department, which handles radio communications for the Santa Fe Springs Fire Department and other nearby agencies.
The fire stubborn fire continued burning beyond midnight and into Friday morning, officials said.
“We increased out personnel due to fire activity and poor access to the cardboard box bales,” English said.
The cardboard bales burned with increasing intensity as they broke apart, presenting more surface area to catch fire.
“It’s very manpower intensive,” English said of the firefighters’ efforts.
Shortly after midnight, firefighters were using a skip loader to remove burning debris, officials said. A tanker truck was summoned to the scene to refuel the fire engines.
More than 100 firefighters from the Santa Fe Springs, Los Angeles County, Downey, Montebello, La Habra Heights, Vernon and Compton fire departments worked to drown the flames.
No injuries were initially reported to civilians or firefighters, English said.
Southern California Edison officials were summoned to the scene to assist with downed power lines, and firefighters requested the trains on a nearby set of tracks at Rosecrans Avenue and Marquardt Street be shut down as the fire continued to burn. Traffic was shut down on both Rosecrans Avenue and Marquardt Street.
Metrolink officials reported Line 608 to Oceanside was stopped at the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Station, and 91 Line 707 was stopped at the Fullerton Station, Buses were used to bring passengers to their ultimate destinations.
VIDEO and PHOTOS by Keith Durflinger
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A planned sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint in Santa Fe Springs was cut short over the weekend due to safety concerns created by rainfall, authorities said.
The checkpoint, which began about 8 p.m. Friday night along Florence Avenue just west of Pioneer Boulevard, was originally scheduled to continue for about six hours, Whittier police officials said.
But officers dismantled the checkpoint after about two hours due to the rain and increased safety risk it brought with it, Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Police screened 665 motorists during the checkpoint and cited four for driving without a license, Ellis said. Three drivers were given field sobriety tests, however none were arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving.
The checkpoint was funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — The Whittier Police Department is planning a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint late Friday in Santa Fe Springs, authorities said.
The checkpoint will take place from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 2:30 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within Santa Fe Springs, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“Over the course of the past three years in the cities of Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, DUI collisions have claimed 4 lives and resulted in 119 injury crashes harming 167 of our friends and neighbors,” Sgt. Rob Hanson said.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Officials plan to shut down all southbound lanes of the 5 Freeway in Santa Fe Springs early Saturday as part of an ongoing construction project, according to Caltrans.
The closure will be in effect from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. on a mile-long stretch of the freeway from Carmenita Road to Valley View Avenue, Caltrans officials said in a written statement.
The Carmenita Road and Alondra Boulevard onramps will also be closed, officials added. Southbound motorists will be directed to exit at Carmenita Road, then re-enter the Freeway at Valley View Avenue.
The connector road from the southbound 605 Freeway to the southbound 5 Freeway will also be closed from 12:01 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday.
The same closure is scheduled to take place Monday and Tuesday, officials added.
The construction is part of a $1.6 billion project to widen the 5 Freeway between Los Angeles and Orange counties.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Work crews plan to shut down all northbound lanes on a 1-mile stretch of the 5 Freeway through Santa Fe Springs overnight Monday and Tuesday.
All three northbound lanes of the 5 Freeway between Valley View Avenue and Carmenita Road will be shut down from 11:59 p.m. Monday to 4 a.m. Tuesday, and again from 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to 4 a.m. Wednesday, Caltrans officials said in a written statement.
Additionally, the Valley View Avenue and Alondra Boulevard onramps to the northbound 5 Freeway will be shut down from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. both days, officials said.
“Motorists travelling northbound I-5 will exit Valley View Avenue and re-enter northbound I-5 at the Rosecrans Avenue onramp,” according to the Caltrans statement.
The closure is to allow for workers to make progress on the ongoing Alondra Boulevard Bridge construction.
The bridge project is part of a larger, $1.6 billion project to widen the 5 Freeway between Los Angeles and Orange counties.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> Authorities Wednesday continued investigating a two-vehicle crash that claimed the lives of a Norwalk man and woman early Saturday.-
The collision took place about 12:09 a.m. Saturday along Norwalk Boulevard at Smith Avenue, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.
Killed were Daniel Mata, 23, and Jazmin Gomez, 19, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Elissa Sleak said. Autopsies determined both died as a result of “multiple blunt traumatic injuries,” and both deaths were ruled accidental.
Mata was at the wheel of a Nissan Sentra that collided with a Jeep Laredo, according to coroner’s and Whittier police officials. Gomez was riding as the front passenger.
A Whittier woman in her late-teens who was riding in the rear of the Nissan Sentra was thrown from the car from the crash. She was taken to a trauma center in critical condition.
Preliminary investigation determined the Sentra was south on Norwalk Boulevard when, for an unknown reason, the car veered toward the right, White said.
The Sentra struck the west curb, “causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and cross into northbound traveling lanes,” he said.
“It was broad-sided by a Jeep Laredo, travelling northbound, who was unable to avoid the Nissan,” White said.
Mata and Gomez were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, White said.
Two people riding inside the Jeep Laredo suffered minor injuries in the crash, he said.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation, however no arrests or citations were initially made, the officer said.
The incident was the second fatal car crash on the same stretch of road in less than three weeks.
Manuel Diaz Campos, 26, of Whittier died in the early-morning hours of Feb. 13 after the Scion he was driving at a high rate of speed crashed into a traffic signal, shearing the vehicle in half, Whittier police and coroner’s officials said.
The Feb. 13 crash remained under investigation.
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.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Officials have released the name of a 39-year-old South El Monte man who died in a motorcycle crash in Santa Fe Springs Monday,
Jacob John Valdivia died in the 10:12 p.m. crash at Washington Boulevard and Chatfield Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Valdivia was westbound Washington Boulevard on his 2005 Harley-Davidson motorcycle at an unknown speed when he collided with a 2003 Dodge Ram pickup truck that was making a left turn from eastbound Washington Boulevard to northbound Chatfield Avenue, Officer J. Boyd of the California Highway Patrol’s Santa Fe Springs office said in written statement.
“(Valdivia) failed to stop in time as the front of the Harley-Davidson collided into the right, rear corner of the Dodge Ram,” Boyd said. “This caused major impact damage to the Harley-Davidson. (Valdivia) was ejected from the Harley-Davidson.”
Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene, officials said. The driver of the Dodge, a 27-year-old Fullerton man, was not injured in the collision.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A gunman fled with cash following a liquor store robbery early Friday, police said.
The crime took place about 7:30 a.m. when a man armed with a handgun walked into Bruce’s Liquors, at Imperial Highway and Bloomfield Avenue, Whittier police Lt. Mike Przybyl said.
The robber demanded money from the clerk and fled after obtaining an unknown amount of cash, the lieutenant said. He got into a car, which possibly had a driver waiting inside, which was last seen driving west on Imperial Highway.
A description of the robber was not available.
A 21-year-old man was sentenced to 90 years to life in prison for fatally shooting one man and trying to kill a second man near the railroad tracks in Santa Fe Springs in 2009.
Jose Zapata’s sentencing was held Tuesday at Norwalk Superior Court.
On Oct. 4, a jury convicted Zapata of the first-degree murder of 18-year-old Jonathan Gonzalez of Corning and the attempted murder of then 19-year-old Julio Serrano of Whittier, according to District Attorney spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales.
She said jurors found true the allegations the crimes were committed for the benefit of a street gang, that Zapata personally fired a handgun and used a gun.
The jury also found true the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery, murder during the commission of a carjacking and gang-murder, Davila-Morales said.
Zapata, who was 17 when the murder occurred, was tried as an adult. Whittier police said he was from West Covina at the time of his arrest.
The other defendant in the case, 22-year-old Erick Rodriguez of Whittier, was acquitted of the charges on Oct. 4., she said.
Whittier police said the shooting happened near the railroad tracks, just west of the 8900 block of Dice Road in Santa Fe Springs.
Officers checking out a call about gunfire at 12:20 a.m. Dec. 8, 2009, found the two victims.
Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene. The wounded Serrano was located on Dice Road and taken to a hospital.
Rodriguez and Zapata were identified as suspects in the shooting and arrested.
– Ruby Gonzales