California News

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Los Angeles: Explosion partially destroys home in West Hills, leaves massive debris field

An explosion at a home in West Hills on Wednesday significantly damaged the structure and scattered debris across a residential block, prompting a response from firefighters and police. Two people were inside the single-story house, in the 7500 block of Sale Avenue, when the blast happened shortly after 3 p.m. No active fire occurred and no one was injured, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Paramedics evaluated three young children at the scene. It was unclear if those children were at the day care center located next door to the damaged house. "We heard this giant, like, boom," said neighbor Jordan C'Dealva-Lenik. "At first, we thought it was the big one and we were really scared. So me and my mother, we ran out of the house because we didn't know.

Update: Blaze near Hopland grows to 142 acres; 3 firefighters suffer injuries

A wildfire in grass and vineyard outside Hopland in Mendocino County grew to 142 acres overnight, after breaking out Tuesday afternoon along the western edge of Highway 101. The blaze, estimated at 80 percent containment Wednesday, started about 12:40 p.m. Tuesday near Crawford Ranch Road around the same time a grape truck with a smoking engine was seen in the area, Cal Fire said. On Wednesday, it was still unclear if there was any connection, said Cal Fire Spokeswoman Tricia Austin. Three firefighters have suffered minor injuries.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Spirited assistant chief takes over Contra Costa County Fire Protection District operations division

The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District promoted Battalion Chief Ed Gonzales to assistant chief of emergency operations in a restructuring of the district divisions in August. Gonzales replaces Assistant Chief Lon Goestsch, who takes over the district training division. Gonzales climbed the rungs from firefighter to engineer to captain to lead the district's busiest battalion, No. 8, since 2014. It makes one wonder how the energetic assistant chief will adjust to the office in Pleasant Hill, away from the action in east Contra Costa County. "On a day like today, I ask myself that," said Gonzales, waiting over an hour in the lobby for a preceding meeting to end.
Lamorinda Weekly

Newborn Meets San Diego Firefighters Who Delivered Him

Firefighters successfully delivered a newborn with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck during an early morning call four months ago. On Wednesday, the healthy newborn and his family stopped by San Diego Fire Station 12 to visit the crew and express their appreciation. Timothy Matthew Fleming was dressed in a firefighter onesie as he posed for photos with his parents Shana and Matthew Fleming and his 4-year-old big sister Zoey. It was on May 26 that San Diego Fire-Rescue crews were called to the family’s home in the area of 56th Street and 56th Place in Emerald Hills at 5:30 a.m. and helped deliver Timothy.

Grass fire prompts YMCA evacuation in San Rafael

A wind-whipped grass fire Wednesday night scorched about a half-acre along southbound Highway 101 in north San Rafael near the Marin YMCA, which was evacuated as a precaution. A vehicle with a mechanical issue is believed to have caused a spark that ignited the blaze around 8 p.m. between Lucas Valley Road and Manuel T. Freitas Parkway, said San Rafael fire Battalion Chief Kyle Hamilton. Winds pushed flames up the hill toward the Marin YMCA on Los Gamos Drive, prompting firefighters to evacuate the center, Hamilton said. He said flames burned about 100 feet from the center. Firefighters from San Rafael, Marinwood and Novato were able to quickly extinguish the blaze.
Marin Independent Journal

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Firefighter funeral honors San Francisco battalion chief who died while on duty

San Francisco firefighters paid tribute at a funeral Tuesday morning for Battalion Chief Terry Smerdel, who died while on duty earlier this month. Smerdel, who had worked with the department since 1991, died on Sept. 10 while working a shift at Battalion 1. Fire officials said he had returned from an early morning fire call and was later found unresponsive in his office. The private funeral, which began at 10 a.m., is taking place at St. Ignatius Church at 650 Parker Ave. It will be followed by a procession to Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery.

San Diego Fire Chief has dire warning about fire season

Years of drought and a significant build-up of grass from last winter's rains has created dangerous wildfire conditions in San Diego and surrounding areas of the county, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Chief Brian Fennessy said Monday. In a report delivered to the City Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, the chief said people think the winter rains will ease the fire threat this fall. "Well, it did, in the green-up period in the spring, but all that new growth dies," Fennessy said. He said the dead grass can carry fire into heavier, drought-stricken vegetation, acting as a kindling of sorts. The conditions have led to a large amount of small roadside fires this year, often caused by malfunctioning catalytic converters in vehicles, he said.
KGTV-TV ABC 10 San Diego

San Francisco firefighters pull two people from burning building

A man suffered critical injuries and two other people, including a teenager, were hurt after a fire broke out at a San Francisco home Wednesday morning, fire officials said. Firefighters were called to a blaze on the 300 block of Harvard Street in the city’s Portola Heights neighborhood shortly before 2 a.m., according to the San Francisco Fire Department. When crews arrived, they saw a fire from the front window on the second floor of a two-story apartment building and observed a 17-year-old boy fleeing the burning structure, officials said.
San Francisco Chronicle (

Chief Healy reflects on his years with Moraga-Orinda Fire District

Stephen Healy spent barely any time talking about what he accomplished as fire chief of the Moraga-Orinda Fire District. Rather, a relaxed Healy, who leaves the district Sept. 20, talked over coffee and toast almost exclusively about those he worked with in his 12 years with MOFD. "I'll most miss the people," the chief said. "Since 2006, I have been involved with the hiring or promotion of just about everyone in the district." His interactions with people gave Healy his highest highs, but also provided his top challenge once he moved into the fire chief seat. "Deciding who to hire," Healy said. "The final say on hiring a firefighter was the biggest difference I felt as chief. You have the responsibility to hire the best people, and for some, it was tough telling them this was not a career for them."
Lamorinda Weekly

135-acre Hopland fire 60 percent contained

A roadside fire charred 135 acres of grass and vineyard west of Highway 101 in the Mendocino County community of Hopland on Tuesday, authorities said. The wind-whipped blaze ran out of control for several hours before a shift in the gusts allowed fire crews to begin to make some progress, a Cal Fire spokeswoman said. The Grape fire was 60 percent contained by Tuesday evening, after the wind “turned the fire back on itself,” spokeswoman Tricia Austin said. About 220 people were assigned to the blaze, which began at about 12:40 p.m. near Crawford Ranch Road, located about 3 miles north of Hopland’s commercial district and Highway 175.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Two Taken to Hospital After Fire Ignites Inside San Jose Duplex

Two people were transported to the hospital and one dog died after a blaze broke out at a duplex in San Jose early Wednesday, according to fire officials. The blaze was reported around 12:10 a.m. along the 500 block of Hazel Dell Way, according to San Jose Fire Department Capt. Brad Cloutier. Responding firefighters found dark smoke pouring out of the attic and one of the windows of the duplex, Cloutier said. Three people managed to escape the blaze, but two of them had to be transported because they were both suffering from smoke inhalation and one had a slight burn injury, according to Cloutier.
KNTV-TV NBC 11 Bay Area

Sign up to subscribe to custom state Daily Dispatch emails for free

click to subscribe