California News

Friday, April 16, 2021

Turning grief into a mission, wife of fallen Redding firefighter focuses on foundation

Three years ago, Alyson Stoke never would have thought she'd be sitting down for TV interviews or that her name would be well-known far beyond her Northstate community. "My kids don't necessarily like that everyone knows their last name, but it stands for something," the mother of two explained in a new interview with KRCR's Dylan Brown. Alyson's husband Jeremy, a beloved Redding firefighter, was killed while helping evacuate families from the Carr Fire as it ripped through parts of the city in 2018. The Fire Prevention Officer for the Redding Fire Department had cut a family vacation in Oregon short that week to respond to a widespread multi-agency call for help. It was a scenario Alyson knew was possible, but hoped would never become a reality. "They go on fires. That's what they do. You can't think about it. You never think about the worst that could come," Alyson said of her nearly 20 years married to a firefighter. "You just kiss them goodbye and know that it will be okay."
KRCR-TV ABC 7 Redding

Follow Up: Neighbors Still Waiting On Repairs Nearly 1 Month After Massive Explosion In Ontario

Nearly one month after a massive explosion rocked an Ontario neighborhood, several of the 80 homes damaged still need repairs. At Erin Uigalelei’s home, boards still cover windows blown out by the blast. She said she filed a claim with the city of Ontario to help cover the cost of repairs, but it was denied. “Our insurance is covering it, but we have to still pay the deductible,” she said. “We have to come up with $1,000, so that’s all that I asked for was help with was the deductible.” A spokesperson for the city of Ontario said the city was not responsible for the explosion or the estimated $3.2 million in damage it caused. In total, 11 claims filed with the city have been denied. “I feel like they do play a role in the responsibility because people have complained multiple times that that house has been doing illegal fireworks,” Uigalelei said.
KCAL-TV CBS 9 Los Angeles

A small brush fire in Long Beach charred multiple unoccupied school buses

A small brush fire in Long Beach charred multiple unoccupied school buses Thursday afternoon, officials said. Around 2:30 p.m., a blaze broke out near the 405 Freeway off-ramp at Orange Avenue, according to Long Beach Fire Department spokesperson Brian Fisk. The flames expanded on to a school bus yard that sits adjacent to the freeway off-ramp. At least three school buses were completely damaged. No injuries were reported. Photos shared by the department showed firefighters hosing down busses as heavy smoke surrounded the area. Fire investigators were at the scene Thursday afternoon to determine the cause of the blaze.
KTLA-TV WB 5 Los Angeles

San Diego firefighters simulate airport emergency

Most San Diego firefighters spend the majority of their career fighting house and brush fires, but this week, dozens are practicing for something very different - a plane on fire at the airport. “In a house is what we call a Class A fire, typically materials, linens, and wood,” Capt. Derrin Austin with San Diego Fire-Rescue said. “With aircraft firefighting, it's the fuels, which are different than vehicle fuels, and more than likely hazardous materials that are part of the cargo.” Also different, planes can be packed with people who are panicking to get out. “One of the challenges is balancing getting in to put the fire out and staying out of the way of the passengers and crew that have to evacuate from the plane,” Capt. Austin added. San Diego Fire-Rescue has a station at the airport and the crews there have to go through Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighter training every year.
KFMB-TV CBS/CW 8 San Diego

Napa County weighs using artificial intelligence-based fire detection system

Napa County might use a high-tech system to try to detect fires soon after ignition, with the hope an early warning gives firefighters the jump they need to prevent raging, massive wildfires. Ten or so poles topped with the artificial intelligence-based IQ FireWatch fire-sensing technology could provide coverage for 94% to 97% of the county, county officials said. The system can detect heat disturbance from fires even before smoke is visible. The concept is that "it’s about as early detection as you can get,” county Public Works Director Steven Lederer said. County Fire Chief Geoff Belyea said the fire detection cameras already used in the county don’t have this technology. He was referring to the ALERTWildfire system that has cameras on Mount St. Helena, Atlas Peak and Berryessa Peak.
Napa Valley Register - Metered Site

Fire Investigators Seeking Person Of Interest After Fire Damages Los Angeles Restaurant’s Outdoor Dining Tent

Investigators need help to identify an arsonist who damaged a restaurant’s outdoor canopy in Koreatown. A fire was set outside a restaurant in the 900 block of South Vermont Avenue just after midnight on April 2. The fire damaged the restaurant’s outdoor canopy/tent that had been set up to accommodate outdoor dining. The Los Angeles Fire Department’s Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section released surveillance video of a person they believe to be responsible for the fire. The video shows the person walking on a sidewalk, looking into the empty canopy area. Investigators did not release a description of the suspect. But surveillance videos and image show the person appears to be a possibly Hispanic woman with dark hair, wearing a dark colored, possibly green shirt, jeans torn at the knees and sandals.
KCAL-TV CBS 9 Los Angeles

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Los Angeles City Council Approves Deal To Avoid Closing Fire Stations Amid Budget Crisis

The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday unanimously approved an agreement with the union representing Los Angeles Fire Department personnel to avoid station closures amid the city’s economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The deal with the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City defers a base wage increase, initially scheduled for July 4, to Jan. 1, 2023. The deal, expected to save $23.7 million during the next fiscal year through the raise deferment and retirement incentive pay, will prevent the city from imposing temporary closures of fire stations, also known as “brown outs.” The City Council also approved a similar deal with the Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Officers Association to defer raises for the same amount of time. That deal is expected to save about $1 million, according to the city administrative officer.

Wildfire season is coming quickly and it’s coming earlier, California forecasters warn

The wildfire season 'is coming quickly and it's coming earlier.' That's the message from meteorologist Eric Kurth and the National Weather Service in Sacramento, California, as the state deals with a crippling drought and vegetation and grasses that are already beginning to brown. 'We are seeing record levels of dryness for this time of year. It's more like what we would see later in June than mid-April,' said Kurth. He is concerned about this year's fire season on the heels of an extremely dry year in 2020, and the most active fire season that California has ever recorded. Someone who gets up close to California's vegetation is Craig Clements. He's a professor of meteorology and director of the Fire Weather Research Laboratory at San Jose State University.
KHSL-TV CBS 12 Chico

Follow Up: Female East Bay Firefighters Urge More Women To Join Ranks

Adding women to the ranks of firefighters has been a slow and often difficult process, but a diverse group of female fighters in Contra Costa County say it's been well worthwhile. Battalion Chief Sidney Jackett and engineer Amy Miller of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, firefighters Maria Castellanos and Shawnay Tarquinio of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District and engineer Theresa Vouchilas of the Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District spoke in an interview about the challenges and rewards of their front-line jobs. They strongly encouraged other women to follow in their footsteps. Why did the women choose the fire service in the first place, entering a profession rife with nontraditional hours, mental and emotional stress, and potentially life-endangering emergency calls daily?
Albany Patch

Porterville firefighters killed in library fire honored on Highway 65

Two South Valley first responders who lost their lives in the line of duty are receiving a special honor in Tulare County. Porterville Firefighter Patrick Jones and Fire Captain Raymond Figueroa died in a suspected arson fire at the city library last year. Senator Melissa Hurtado proposed a bill to designate a portion of Highway 65 as the "Fire Captain Raymond Figueroa and Firefighter Patrick Jones Memorial Highway." That bill has been approved by the transportation committee. Now, the stretch of highway between Teapot Dome Avenue and Linda Vista Avenue will be marked in their memory. Senator Hurtado released a statement after the decision saying, "I am proud to honor their memory by recognizing their heroic actions and the sacrifice that they made on behalf of Porterville."
KFSN-TV ABC 30 Frenso/Visalia

California power regulators cast doubt on PG&E’s wildfire plans

California power regulators are poised to reprimand Pacific Gas & Electric for continuing to neglect its electrical grid that has ignited a series of deadly wildfires in Northern California and could order the utility to do be more vigilant in the upcoming months of hot, windy weather. The anticipated rebuke from the California Public Utilities Commission Thursday would serve as official notice to PG&E that it hasn't been doing enough to reduce the risks posed by a combination of crumbling equipment and overgrown trees susceptible to touching or toppling into nearby power lines. It marks the first step in a process that could eventually lead to regulators revoking PG&E’s utility license as part of deal worked out last year while the company during bankruptcy, triggered by its role in a series of 2017 and 2018 wildfires that killed more than 100 people and destroyed more than 27,000 buildings.
KCRA-TV NBC 3 Sacramento

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