California News

Friday, May 22, 2020

Santa Barbara Coroner: Smoke inhalation killed 34 in deadly boat fire

Coroner’s reports for the 34 victims who died in a scuba boat fire off the Southern California coast last year show they died of carbon monoxide poisoning before they were burned, authorities said Thursday. All thirty-three scuba divers and one crew member died in the Sept. 2 fire aboard the Conception, anchored off Santa Cruz Island. The only survivors were the captain and four other crew members, who were asleep above deck. The Santa Barbara County coroner’s reports list smoke inhalation as the cause of death for the 34 victims, all of whom were in the below-deck bunk room when the fire broke out. The manner of death is considered accidental, said Lt. Erik Raney of the Santa Barbara sheriff’s office.
KTTV-TV MyFox 11 Los Angeles

Update: Los Angeles fire captain lost use of hands after DTLA smoke shop explosion, chief says

On the heels of a downtown Los Angeles warehouse explosion that left 12 firefighters injured over the weekend, inspections at similar businesses will soon be underway to help keep firefighters aware of increased danger. On Thursday Chief Ralph Terrazas told KTLA once the L.A. Fire Department completes its investigation into the fiery explosion at Smoke Tokes, a distributor and wholesaler of smoking and vaping products, that happened around 6:30 p.m. Saturday near San Pedro and Third streets, inspections will begin to identify similar businesses that may be storing volatile materials that could increase the threat to responding firefighters. Terrazas said LAFD personnel also plan to work to ensure businesses of a similar nature display a diamond placard that serve as a warning to firefighters. “If they arrive on scene of a building of this type they will have an indicator of the type of contents that would exist in the building,” Terrazas said.
KTLA-TV WB 5 Los Angeles

Stanislaus Consolidated firefighters to start billing for some responses

The Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District will soon begin billing people or their insurance companies when firefighters respond to vehicle fires, crashes, water rescues, hazmat calls and other rescue events. Its board voted last week to begin billing July 1 to recover costs for the services. Anyone requiring the services, regardless of whether they live within the district’s coverage area and already pay a special assessment on their property, will be billed, according to a staff report. The district serves Riverbank as well as unincorporated areas in east Modesto, Empire, Waterford, La Grange and Hickman, covering 217 square miles. The bills will range from $494 to $562 for “motor vehicle incidents,” but an extrication would cost an additional $1,483, or if a helicopter landing zone was needed, $454. Water rescues will cost $455 to $2,274, plus $57 per hour per firefighter. Hazmat calls will range from $796 to $6,707, plus additional costs if the response exceeds three hours.
The Modesto Bee - Metered Site

Oroville police, firefighters agree to delay pay raise, retirement reduction during coronavirus

Police officers and firefighters in Oroville will have to wait to see more money in their paychecks after agreeing to delay raises and retirement contribution reductions for up to a year. The City Council approved side letter agreements with both the Oroville Police Officers Association and the Oroville Fire Fighters Association during a special council meeting Thursday. The police agreement means a four percent raise promised to police officers will be delayed and the city will meet with the union in September 2020, December 2020, March 2021 and June 2021 to review the city’s finances and to discuss implementing the pay increase and the potential for retroactivity, according to the council’s agenda packet. The city can hold onto the estimated $107,757 the raise would cost, but will have to implement the raise within a year. Firefighters have agreed to delay a four percent reduction in their CalPERS retirement contributions, also for up to one year.

Deadly Car Crash Sparks Small Brush Fire in Rancho Bernardo

One person was killed Thursday when a vehicle veered off a Rancho Bernardo street, crashed into a tree and caught fire. The fatal crash in the 16400 block of West Bernardo Drive took place shortly before noon, according to San Diego police. The unidentified victim was trapped in the burning vehicle and died at the scene, Sgt. Matt Botkin said. The wreck, which also sparked a small brush fire and ruptured a water line, forced a closure of traffic lanes in the area. Firefighters were able to quickly douse the flames, and city utilities personnel were called in to fix the broken pipeline, which was soaking a stretch of the street and roadside, according to police.
KNSD-TV NBC 7 San Diego

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Los Angeles County Sheriff backs bill outlawing dead-body photos in wake of Kobe Bryant incident

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Wednesday, May 20, that he backs a bill moving its way through the Assembly that would make it a crime for first responders in California to take photos of dead bodies at emergency sites unless for an investigation. Assembly Bill 2655 would make it a misdemeanor for police officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency personnel responding to disasters to take such photos. The bill comes on the heels of the January helicopter crash in Calabasas that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gigi, and seven others. Officials later discovered that eight deputies were involved in the taking or sharing of the photos, the sheriff has said. He ordered the pictures destroyed and, he said, launched an internal investigation.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Fresno creates task force to deal with spots prone to fire

Fresno is deploying a first-of-its-kind team aimed at tackling vacant lots prone to fire within the city. Fresno Deputy Fire Marshal Jay Tracy says there are more than 1,500 vacant lots within the city. While most property owners maintain their lots, not doing so can have explosive consequences. Fresno Fire has gone throughout the city identifying hotspots. A list of 20 has already been given to the city, with another 20 on the way. Tracy says his experience in the field has proved beneficial in identifying problem areas. "There were lots that we knew every year were going to burn. We knew there were lots that would burn two or three times," says Tracy. So the city is getting a step ahead of the game with an abatement task force. Fresno housing and neighborhood revitalization manager Rodney Horton says their goal is to be proactive and go to a property with tall grass and weeds and abate the property at the homeowner's expense.
KFSN-TV ABC 30 Frenso/Visalia

Firefighters begin week of training at Santa Maria Airport

PHOTOS: Santa Maria firefighters put out repeated blazes in a simulator during Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting, or ARFF, training Tuesday at the Santa Maria Public Airport. Conducted each year, the training is designed to meet the Federal Aviation Administration’s requirements for airports served by commercial air carriers. The Belmont-based company Industrial Emergency Council — which provides ARFF training at numerous airports, like San Francisco International and Edwards Air Force Base — brings in the mobile fire training prop and lights propane fires to help firefighters learn how to deal with real world catastrophes. Fire departments from Santa Barbara City, Santa Barbara County, Cal Fire and San Jose will also participate in the exercise that will continue through the week.
Santa Maria Times - Metered Site

Fire Investigators Search For One-Handed Arson Suspect In Stanislaus County

Investigators are looking for a man accused of intentionally starting a fire in Stanislaus County. The incident happened on May 9, according to a statement from the Stanislaus Regional Fire Investigation Unit. Video of the man believed to be the suspect was released Wednesday and shows the man walking into a dumpster enclosure. Investigators say the is missing his right hand.
KOVR-TV CBS 13 Sacramento

Los Angeles Fire Department to inspect businesses that store dangerous materials

The chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department is promising that every fire station in the city will work to identify businesses similar to the vaping and cannabis supplies wholesaler that went up in flames Saturday night in an incident that injured a dozen firefighters, in an attempt to ensure they are storing dangerous materials safely. "Those types of businesses pose a threat to the people who work there, the public that goes there, and firefighters if they have to respond there,'' Chief Ralph Terrazas said Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Fire stations will identify which businesses store volatile chemicals and ensure that they are stored properly, the chief said. Those businesses are required to display a diamond placard alerting emergency personnel that potentially flammable and hazardous materials are inside.
KTTV-TV FOX 11 Los Angeles

Two adults displaced following a vacant house fire in Taft

Two adults were displaced following a vacant house fire Wednesday in Taft, according to the Kern County Fire Department. According to KCFD, when crews arrived the building was already well involved with fire. Due to the close proximity to neighboring buildings fire had also spread into the attic of another structure. Firefighters worked quickly to conduct searches in all buildings for trapped occupants and began extinguishing the fire. The construction of the buildings, combined with large amounts of belongings on the properties, made fire suppression efforts extremely labor intensive and required firefighters from three KCFD Battalions to provide the necessary manpower. Firefighters were committed to the incident for over three hours and successfully contained the fire to the two buildings that were burning upon arrival. City officials determined to use heavy equipment to completely demolish the building of fire origin due to the building’s extensive fire damage.
KERO-TV ABC 23 Bakersfield

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