California News

Monday, October 19, 2020

East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Mulls Major Merger

During the Great Recession of 2009, East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District began closing fire stations, from nine down to only three. Now the district’s board is considering voting themselves out of existence to change that. From the time a call goes out, firefighters get ready to roll in about a minute and a half. The rest of the response time is spent driving to an incident. “Throughout the majority of our territory, we should be within four minutes of response to any point in the area and we’re pushing anywhere from eight to 10 minutes at this point,” said East Contra Costa Fire’s public information officer Steve Aubert. That’s a problem for people living in the remote Summer Lake development east of Oakley. They actually have a new fire station nearby provided by the developer but East Contra Costa Fire has never had enough money to keep it staffed.
KPIX-TV CBS 5 San Francisco

Memorial today for San Francisco firefighter who died in training accident

A private vigil and celebration of life will be held on Monday for Jason Cortez, a San Francisco firefighter and paramedic who died earlier this month from injuries sustained in a training accident. The vigil will be held at 4 p.m. at St. Ignatius Church located at 650 Parker Avenue. It is for family and invited guests only. An honor salute by members of the San Francisco Fire Department will follow the services. On Tuesday morning, a private celebration of Cortez's life will be held at 11 a.m. at Oracle Park. It is for family and invited guests. Cortez will be buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.
KTVU-TV Fox 2 Oakland

Residents escape, dog rescued after fire rips through Anaheim apartment complex

A fire erupted at a four-unit apartment complex in Anaheim on Friday, but all residents escaped and firefighters were able to rescue a dog. The blaze erupted near Clemintine and Santa Ana streets at about 7 p.m. When firefighters arrived, they encountered heavy smoke coming from the 3-alarm fire. Crews were able to knock down the fire in two hours, according to Anaheim Police Sgt. Shane Carringer. Video shows firefighters rescuing a family dog that was trapped in a second-floor unit. They were able to carry the dog down a ladder and it is expected to be fine. One firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion and was expected to be OK. No residents were reported injured, but the fire displaced them all. The cause of the fire was unknown.
KABC-TV ABC 7 Los Angeles

Lakeside brush fire near neighborhood sparked by metal grinder

Firefighters say a four-acre brush fire that ignited above a neighborhood on Saturday was sparked by a metal grinder. The Cordial Fire broke out at about on a hillside near Cordial Road and Avenida Del Charro just before 4 p.m. The fire originally began with moderate rate of spread before crews quickly stamped it out and prevented flames from threatening structures. Firefighters said the fire began after a metal grinder sparked dry grass. "A small mishap can have disastrous effects, especially this time of year. Please be fire safe in everything you do," a tweet from CAL FIRE San Diego said. A fire crew was set to stay on scene into the evening to mop up the area.
KGTV-TV ABC 10 San Diego

PG&E lacked basic training before 2019 California blackouts

When Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to large swaths of wildfire-prone Northern California last fall, few of the emergency personnel managing the blackouts for the nation’s largest utility had learned the fundamentals of managing an emergency in their home state. The utility entered 2019 planning to “de-energize” its aging electric grid during autumn windstorms, so that downed lines couldn’t spark a blaze. Yet among the hundreds of people who handled the blackouts from PG&E’s emergency operations center, only a handful had any training in the disaster response playbook that California has used for a generation, The Associated Press found. Predictably enough, the October 2019 outages brought chaos from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Sierra Nevada, as more than 2 million people lost power.
KTVU-TV Fox 2 Oakland

Ballot Drop Box Catches Fire In Baldwin Park

Authorities are investigating a fire which damaged an official ballot drop box Sunday night in Baldwin Park, damaging countless ballots in the process. The box, located outside the Baldwin Park Library in the 4100 block of Baldwin Park Boulevard, was discovered on fire at around 8 p.m., according to Baldwin Park police. Los Angeles County Fire Department crews arrived on scene and extinguished the blaze. Firefighters had to install a hose into the slot of the box to put the fire out. They then had to use a chainsaw to cut the box open and remove stacks of burned ballots. It's unclear exactly how the fire was sparked. It is being investigated as a possible arson. Damaged ballots were taken into the custody of police.
KCAL-TV 9 Los Angeles

Friday, October 16, 2020

Fresno Fire Department planning to hire 45 employees

For the first time in almost four years, Fresno Fire is looking for new recruits with and without experience. Chief Kerri Donis says, "We can teach you to be a firefighter, we can't teach you to come with a good attitude and strong work ethic. You have to come to us with those things." The plan is to hire 42 new firefighters and three staff positions. The first academy class will help implement a new two-person squad that will primarily run medical emergencies. This will keep engines and trucks parked longer and better prepared for fires. The next would add a fourth firefighter to engines and trucks - someone who would help relieve taxed resources as fire crews have already seen an almost 50% increase in fire calls alone compared to last year. "Once this hiring is complete which will take about 14 months or so we will have 95 on duty each day," Donis said.
KFSN-TV ABC 30 Frenso/Visalia

Firefighters extinguish house fire in Ocean Beach where ammo exploded in burning garage

Flames engulfed an Ocean Beach home Thursday afternoon, prompting evacuations as loud popping sounds caused by discharging ammunition sounded from within the burning home. The blaze in the 4400 block of Niagara Avenue erupted for unknown reasons shortly before 2 p.m., the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department reported. Patrol officers cleared people out of nearby residences as firefighters were en route. An SDFD chief confirmed that dozens of rounds of ammo went off when the garage of the house was burning. It took firefighters about 15 minutes to subdue the blaze, according to SDFRD public affairs. There were no immediate reports of injuries. The cause of the fire was under investigation.
KFMB-TV CBS 8 San Diego

Rohnert Park Police Arrest Woman For Torching Two Cars

Officers from the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety arrested a 37-year-old woman early Thursday morning on suspicion that she set two cars on fire. Dispatchers received reports of a vehicle fire in the parking lot of an apartment complex on Santa Alicia Dr. around 8:54 a.m. The first responding officer arrived on scene to see one car fully engulfed in flames and another vehicle on fire some distance away. After the incident was upgraded to a structure fire, responding crews extinguished the flames quickly. No one was injured and no buildings were damaged, though the vehicles sustained an estimated $20,000 in damage. Officers investigated the incident as possible arson. Evidence and interviews led investigators to arrest 37-year-old Aftan Burnett, who lived nearby.
KPIX-TV CBS 5 San Francisco

60-year-old woman dies after fire breaks out in Hollywood assisted living facility

A 60-year-old woman died after a fire broke out inside an assisted living facility in Hollywood Wednesday night. The fire started just before 10:45 p.m. in the facility located on North Las Palmas Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Firefighters located the fire in one unit. After the flames were extinguished, firefighters rescued the woman during a search of the apartment. The woman was treated at the scene then taken to a hospital, where she later died, officials said. The woman's identity wasn't immediately released and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire was under investigation.
KABC-TV ABC 7 Los Angeles

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District officials warn against complacency as fire season winds down

Wildfires have scorched more than 4 million acres in California this fire season, shattering records for the amount of burnt earth in a single year. It's been a rough fire season locally as well, as vegetation fires rose 63% over last year within the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. But thanks to a combination of efforts, including a high level of preparedness, aggressive mitigation activities and the awareness and contributions of residents, not one of the 412 vegetation fires in the district through September charred more than 10 acres nor resulted in a fatality. "People should realize it's not for lack of fires that we've had good fortune here. Every one of those fires could have gotten away from us," ConFire spokesman Steve Hill said. "Just because we haven't had a devastating wildfire here, we should not feel immune." Especially fortunate this year has been Lafayette, which experienced only one vegetation fire.
LaMorinda Weekly

Trump administration rejects state’s request for wildfire help

The Trump administration has rejected California's request for federal financial assistance during the state's worst wildfire season in history. California is filing an appeal. But Trump's rejection could leave California struggling to cope with the cost, despite the fact the federal government controls 57% of California's forested lands. Gov. Gavin Newsom has estimated potential federal assistance at $346 million, including $200 million for the Creek Fire alone. Cal Fire on Thursday said there are over 9,000 firefighters battling 12 major and eight other large wildfires. The fires have consumed 4.1 million acres. California did not ask for a specific dollar amount because damage estimates are not completed, Brian Ferguson, with the governor's Office of Emergency Services. told the Los Angeles Times. Federal major disaster declarations allow for cost-sharing for damage, cleanup and rebuilding between the state and federal governments.
KFSN-TV ABC 30 Frenso/Visalia

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