Los Angeles County firefighters extinguish a garage fire on the 5200-block of Halifax Road in Temple City on Wednesday April 20, 2016. There were no injuries reported. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Pasadena Star-News)
TEMPLE CITY >> Firefighters made quick work of a fire in a residential garage that may have been sparked by the spontaneous combustion of varnish-soaked rags, authorities said.
The fire was reported just before 12:15 p.m. in a detached residential garage in the 5200 block of Halifax Road, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Nick Yslas said.
Firefighters arrived within minutes, and declared the flames “knocked down” about 10 minutes after that, he said.
No one was home at the time, he said.
One firefighter was hospitalized with heat exhaustion, the captain said. The injury was considered minor.
The officials cause of the fire remained under investigation, Yslas said.
But firefighters suspected that varnish-soaked rags, left behind after the residence varnished furniture in the garage, he said.
Rags soaked with oil or other chemicals can spontaneously ignite via chemical reaction in a phenomenon known as “pyrolysis,” the captain explained.
Officials estimated the fire caused $65,000 worth of damage to the garage and its contents, Yslas said.
EL MONTE >> Authorities have released the name of a man found dead in some bushes along a freeway offramp in El Monte on Friday.
Samuel Arteche Jr., 45, was pronounced dead about 12:15 p.m. Friday after he was found unresponsive near the Santa Anita offramp of the eastbound 10 Freeway, Lt. David Smith of the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said. He was listed as a Temple City resident.
A transient approached a Freeway Services Patrol worker and said he believed his friend had died, CHP Sgt. Mike Maehr said.
El Monte police took over the investigation and noted no overt signs of foul play, El Monte police Lt. Ben Lowry said.
An autopsy had not yet been performed Sunday.
TEMPLE CITY >> A man escaped kidnappers posing as police officers after they broke into an apartment, pistol-whipped him and placed him in handcuffs Thursday afternoon, officials said.
Two kidnappers showed up shortly after 3 p.m. at the home where the 32-year-old victim had been staying in the 9000 block of Emperor Avenue, near Rosemead Boulevard along the border between Temple City and the unincorporated county area of East San Gabriel, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ismael Chavez said.
The men forced their way into the apartment, he said. One of them brandished a black handgun and flashed some type of badge.
Chavez said the intruders told the victim they were police officers and had warrants for his arrest.
When the phony cops tried to handcuff the man, he resisted and one of them struck him in the head with the gun, the lieutenant said.
The attackers then managed to get the man into the handcuffs and lead him outside, Chavez said. As they led him toward a car, he managed to break free from their grasp, slip one of his hands from the handcuffs and run.
Witnesses called 9-1-1 to report seeing a man with handcuffs hanging from his wrist running down the street and yelling for help, Chavez said. The kidnappers fled.
The man was taken to a hospital with minor injuries and released within hours, officials said.
Deputies described the two police impersonators as white men. One stood about 6 feet tall and weighed about 300 pounds. He wore a dark hat. No further description of the second kidnapper was available.
Chavez said the kidnappers used a white, newer-model, BMW 7 Series sedan. A driver was believed to be waiting at the wheel, but no description was available.
The motive in the foiled kidnapping remained under investigation late Thursday, Chavez said. Nothing was stolen during the incident.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Temple Station at 626-285-7171. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
TEMPLE CITY >> A man received a sentence of more than 15 years in prison Friday for a car crash following a police pursuit in Temple City that killed his passenger, officials said.
Richard John Villareal Jr., 28, pleaded “no contest” in Pasadena Superior Court to one count of gross vehicular manslaughter and one count of evading a police officer, Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
Under a negotiated plea arrangement in Pasadena Superior Court, charges of murder, fleeing a police officer causing death, possession of methamphetamine, and driving without a valid license were dismissed, Santiago said.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dorothy Shubin immediately sentenced Villareal to 15 years and 8 months in state prison.
Killed in the June 2 crash at Lower Azusa Road and Arden Drive in Temple City was Villareal’s 38-year-old friend, Michael Sandoval Jr.
“The defendant led Arcadia police officers on a high-speed pursuit after they attempted to pull him over for driving a stolen car near Workman and Baldwin avenues,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Arcadia police called off the chase, but Villareal continued speeding away in the 2001 Honda Accord.
“Following the pursuit, Villareal sped through a red light at the intersection of Lower Azusa Road and Arden Drive and was struck by another vehicle,” according to the statement. Following the initial impact with a Toyota Avalon, the Honda subsequently struck two minivans, officials said.
Sandoval died at the scene of the crash, while Villareal suffered moderate injuries and one driver of one of the other involved vehicles suffered minor injuries, officials said.
The car the two men were fleeing from police in had been reported stolen two days earlier in Monterey Park.
PHOTO by Walt Mancini
SAN DIMAS >> A Temple City woman died early Saturday in a three-vehicle crash on the 210 Freeway in San Dimas, authorities said.
Linda Marie Vasquez, 35, died at the scene of the 5:15 a.m. crash in the westbound lanes of the 210 Freeway, just west of San Dimas Avenue, according to Los Angeles County coroner and California Highway Patrol officials.
The collision involved Vasquez’s 2005 Scion xA, a 2004 Ford F-550 pickup truck towing a trailer and a 2002 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck, Officer S. Stoos of the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office said in a written statement.
Vasquez was driving in the fast lane when she made an “unsafe lane change” to the No. 3 lane, the officer said. The front of the Scion struck the trailer of the Ford pickup, sending the Scion spinning out of control.
The Scion ended up “directly in front of” the Toyota Tacoma in the No. 4 lane, Stoos said. The Toyota driver was unable to stop in time to avoid a collision, and the Toyota struck the Scion on its passenger side.
A 38-year-old San Bernardino man driving the Ford truck and a 53-year-old Fontana man driving the Toyota truck were not injured, officials said.
Officials shut down the four right-hand lanes of the freeway for about four hours following the crash.
ARCADIA >> An El Monte man already sought on an auto theft warrant led police on chase in a stolen car from Arcadia to Temple City, where he was arrested following a crash early Sunday, authorities said.
Bryan Paul Sanchez, 20, was behind the wheel of a Toyota Sienna van when police tried to pull him over for a traffic violation about 3:30 a.m. at Sunset Boulevard and Duarte Road, Arcadia police Lt. Colleen Flores said. Sanchez sped away, and the chase was on.
“The pursuit entered the city of Temple City where the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a (Southern California) Edison telephone pole,”police said in a written statement.
Sanchez continued fleeing on foot following the crash about two miles to the south at Temple City Boulevard, just south of Olive Street, police said. But he was quickly apprehended in the area.
The car he had been driving was reported stolen the previous night in South El Monte, Flores said.
Officers also found drugs and a suspected stolen credit card in Sanchez’s possession, Flores said.
He was booked on suspicion of auto theft, evading police, receiving stolen property, drug possession, hit-and-run and his outstanding arrest warrant.
Sanchez, who was already wanted on a warrant for auto theft with a history of the same, was being held without bail, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
TEMPLE CITY >> Three men carried out an armed robbery at a Temple City bank Friday, officials said.
The heist took place about 11:40 a.m. at a Bank of the West branch, 9934 E. Las Tunas Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ismael Chavez said.
One of the robbers brandished a revolver and pointed it at a teller while demanding money, the lieutenant said. They fled with an undetermined amount of cash.
Deputies described the robbers as three black men. One was in his 30s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, 185 pounds, wearing blue jeans, a baseball cap and a checkered shirt.
The other two robbers were both of thin build, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, wearing gray hooded sweatshirts, dark pants and bandanas covering their faces.
They were last seen driving south from the bank on Baldwin Avenue in a light gray compact car with faded paint.
ROSEMEAD >> A jury convicted a man of murder and other charges Thursday for a drunken driving crash that claimed the life of an Temple City woman and seriously injured her husband on a 10 Freeway offramp in Rosemead last year, officials said.
The Pomona Superior Court jury deliberated for one day before finding Juan G. Rios, 25, of Perris, guilty of second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, drunken driving, driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent and hit-and-run, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement. Jurors also found true the special allegation that Rios inflicted great bodily injury.
He was behind the wheel of a Honda Civic that collided with a Toyota Camry about 11:15 p.m. Nov. 7 on the Rosemead Boulevard offramp of the eastbound 10 Freeway, California Highway Patrol officials said.
Rios lost control of the Civic and crashed into the Camry which contained 58-year-old Kit Ching Leung of Temple City and her husband, according to the CHP. Both cars went down an embankment.
Leung, who was a passenger in the Camry, succumbed to her injuries at a hospital, CHP Officer Doris Peniche said. Her husband, who was driving the Camry, suffered serious injuries.
Rios ran from the crash scene but was quickly found and arrested.
Rios faces up to 24 years to life in state prison when he returns to court for sentencing Dec. 3.
ARCADIA >> Sheriff’s deputies detained four people Thursday after a stolen car led them on a brief chase from Temple City to Arcadia, officials said.
The chase began shortly after 6 p.m., when deputies spotted a reportedly stolen car with a driver and three passengers traveling down Rosemead Boulevard near Broadway in Temple City, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Haynes said.
After following behind the car as backup amassed, deputies tried to pull the car over, but the driver failed to stop, initiating a pursuit, the sergeant said.
The driver stopped the car and ran at Huntington Drive and Baldwin Avenue in Arcadia, officials said. He was soon captured.
The driver’s name was not available pending the booking process, Haynes said.
Three passengers of the car were also being detained as the investigation continued late Thursday.
TEMPLE CITY >> A man suffered burns in a fire that destroyed his Temple City home early Thursday, authorities said.
The lone resident suffered first- and second-degree burns over about half of his body in the fire, which ignited about 9:40 a.m. at a single-story house in the 4800 block of Birchland Place , Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Donald Rivas said. He was conscious when rescuers took him to a hospital, and the injuries were not believed to be life threatening.
Firefighters found the injured resident already out of the home when they arrived, Rivas said.
They knocked down the flames by 10:02 a.m., fire Inspector Randall Wright said.
The house, which was densely packed with items, was a “total loss,” Rivas said. The detached garage was also damaged in the fire.
Officials estimated to value of the damage to be about $500,000.
Rivas said the fire started in a family room before spreading throughout the home. The cause remained under investigation.