California News

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Porterville library fire: Community mourns fallen firefighters; 2 teens will not be tried as adults

The Porterville Fire Department and the community are mourning the loss of two firefighters that were killed in a massive fire at the Porterville city library on Tuesday afternoon. In a press conference Thursday morning, fire officials said after crews arrived on Tuesday, they were unable to confirm if everyone was out of the building, Fire Capt. Raymond Figueroa, 35, and firefighter Patrick Jones, 25, went inside to search. Capt. Joanne Bear of the Tulare County Fire Department said a short time later a "mayday" was called over the radio by the firefighters. Capt. Figueroa died after being rushed to a local hospital. Jones was unaccounted for until late Wednesday night when crews found his remains after a long and challenging search. A procession escorted Jones' body to the Tulare County Coroner's Office Tulare early Thursday morning. The motorcade included firefighters and law enforcement from across the Valley.
KFSN-TV ABC 30 Frenso/Visalia

Related: Family and friends remember fire captain killed in Porterville library fire

As crews dig through charred debris, a community is mourning the loss of a hero. "It doesn't feel real," says Saidee Espinoza, Porterville Fire Capt. Raymond Figueroa's sister. "It doesn't." Just yards from where his brother took his final breath, Zach Figueroa and his fiance, Saidee, paid tribute to the fallen fire captain. "He was not just my hero, he was everybody else's hero," Zach said. "To the city of Porterville, to the city of Delano, my family, his friends. "He was everyone's hero." "He's an amazing man," Espinoza said. "Such an amazing man and an amazing big brother." Captain Figueroa's former classmates from Delano High School drove from Southern California. They didn't want to speak on camera, but say the father of two was a staple of the community and will be geatly missed. While a memorial continued to grow outside of the firehouse adjacent to the library, urban search and rescue teams spent the day extinguishing hot spots and working to gain access to the building's interior.
KFSN-TV ABC 30 Frenso/Visalia

Trapped paraglider rescued from power lines near Yuba County Airport

Emergency crews rescued a paraglider after he became trapped in power lines near the Yuba County Airport. Just after 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Yuba County Sheriff's Office says they got a call about a paraglider who had crashed on Sky Harbor Drive near Arboga Road. The paraglider was struggling to land in the area when he became entangled in nearby power lines, according to the sheriff's office. Fire officials say the trapped man was with another paraglider before he hit the wires. Jimmy Comstock, who lives feet away, said he saw both before they were separated. “I seen two of them coming. And one went that way and the other come over the trees, dipped down in the road then tried to get out of the road and then hit the wires,” Comstock told FOX40. Officials say the paraglider who crashed was conscious, alert and talking to emergency personnel when they arrived. It did not appear he sustained any major injuries.
KTXL-TV FOX 40 Sacramento

Judge Slams PG&E For Falling ’Far Behind’ In Wildfire Mitigation

A federal judge sharply criticized PG&E at a hearing in San Francisco on Wednesday, saying that the utility had fallen "far behind" in complying with its wildfire mitigation plan. U.S. District Judge William Alsup spoke during a hearing on whether he should order PG&E to hire and train its own crew of tree trimmers in addition to using contractors to remove trees that could spark fires by falling on electrical lines. The judge is also considering a second possible order that would restrict bonuses for supervisors until PG&E complies with the plan. Alsup took both issues under submission and will rule at a later date after receiving more information from PG&E. Any orders issued by the judge would be new conditions of its probation from criminal pipeline safety convictions stemming from the fatal explosion of a natural gas pipeline in San Bruno in 2010.
San Anselmo-Fairfax Patch

Los Angeles County fire chief asks homeowners to raise $134 million by passing tax Measure FD

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby is asking voters to pass Measure FD, a parcel tax he says is necessary to fund his department for the future, adding paramedics, improving the 911 system, upgrading firefighting equipment, combating devastating wildfires and keeping up with substantial increases in medical calls for service. The measure, which requires a two-thirds vote for approval, is on the ballot in unincorporated areas and 56 of the 58 cities served by Osby’s department under the Fire Protection District of Los Angeles County. The measure would levy a parcel tax of 6 cents per square foot on residential and commercial buildings, with a cap of 100,000-square-feet. A homeowner would pay about an extra $90 a year on a property tax bill, Osby said. Low-income seniors are exempt.
Long Beach Press-Telegram - Metered Site

Goats, sheep helping prevent future wildfires by clearing out open space in Rocklin

It's one of the driest Februarys on record in Northern California and fire crews are working to clear brush ahead of the 2020 wildfire season. But it's not just humans working to protect communities. Goats and sheep have taken over an open space in Rocklin's Whitney Ranch doing what they do best — eating. "The goats and sheep come out and they eat down the grass and the weeds, so they reduce the fire fuels," said Corrine Heisler, the city of Rocklin's Environmental Services Specialist. "That reduces the fire risk potential in the city." Heisler said the animals are also gaining a fan following. For nearly eight years, the city has used the grazing program to help reduce fire risk. The animals usually start in early spring and work through the summer, Heisler said.
KXTV ABC 10 Sacramento

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Two teens arrested in deadly Porterville Library fire that killed two firefighters

Two 13-year-olds have been arrested and booked on suspicion of arson and manslaughter charges in a deadly fire on Tuesday that claimed the lives of two firefighters and destroyed the Porterville Library. Tuesday’s blaze started shortly after 4 p.m. The man killed has been identified as Fire Capt. Raymond Figueroa, 35. He started with the department in 2007. Additionally, firefighter Patrick Jones, 25, is still missing. He’s been with the department since 2017. The teens have been booked in the Tulare County Juvenile Detention Center. Tulare County Fire Capt. Joe Rosa is leading the arson investigation. Fresno City Fire is also lending its K9 to help with the investigation and recovery.
Visalia Times Delta

Fire crews work to prevent future wildfires amid dry streak in Northern California

Northern California is having its driest February since 1864, making conditions ideal for wildfires. That's why firefighters have been working to minimize the blow one could bring to an area near Colfax. For 10 months the crews, led by Cal Fire, have been working to create a shaded fuel break — cutting, chipping, burning and clearing dangerous vegetation in Placer County’s North Fork American Canyon that could add fuel to a wildfire. Cal Fire Captain Justin Kimbrell said they chose the area because of its wildfire history. Kimbrell said the project was first conceived nearly a decade ago and has come to fruition because of support from Gov. Gavin Newsom. "It's going to slow down the fire that may start in here," Kimbrell said. "It gives firefighters an opportunity to come in here and actually slow it down, put it out and actually extinguish this fire."
KXTV ABC 10 Sacramento

New Fires becoming more toxic, firefighter cancer rates rising

Fighting fires is just one of the health risks firefighters endure while on the job. Now as more and more synthetics are being used in everyday home goods, cancer risks are growing even higher for firefighters. The Kern County Fire Department is doing everything they can to help protect its members. However, it's no easy task for the understaffed department. The items that burn during fires can sometimes be more dangerous than the fire itself. "The smoke is a lot more toxic, The carcinogens are abundant in the air," said KCFD Captain George Baker. Since the department is understaffed, this results in firefighters exposing themselves to deadly environments more often. This is causing a 14% increase in cancer rates among firefighters compared to the general public, according to the Capt. Baker. The fire department is trying to combat that spike in its team by providing regular physicals, changing gear storage protocols and even bought specialty products to help remove carcinogens from the skin.
KBAK-TV & KBFX-TV Bakersfield Now

Former Apple Valley Fire Protection District chief goes ’off the beaten path’ in search of High Desert history

Sid Hultquist said he was relaxing one day after a long hike while camping on an old wagon trail in Death Valley when something unexpected happened. A somewhat uninspiring desert vista changed, almost instantly, as the sun began to set. “Suddenly all of these flowers bloomed, and came to life and exploded,” said the former fire chief of the Apple Valley Fire Protection District. “I can only tell you it was probably one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen.” The longtime High Desert resident, who now works as a consultant for the Barstow Fire Department, later found out the wildflowers he watched bloom were called Evening Snow. The flowers, which resemble common weeds in the daytime, only bloom in the afternoon or later and emit a jasmine aroma, Hultquist said. Hultquist related that experience — and several others from his years exploring the High Desert — during Thursday’s Victorville Rotary Club meeting.
Victorville Daily Press

San Diego Firefighters Rescue Man Who Got Stuck on Top of Border Wall

PHOTOS: One person had to be rescued after getting stuck atop a section of the border wall in Otay Mesa, San Diego County fire officials said. Just after 5:40 a.m., firefighters were dispatched to assist the U.S. Border Patrol in helping the stranded individual, according to a Facebook post from Cal Fire/San Diego County Fire. When crews arrived, they found someone stuck at the top of the international border fence. Firefighters used a 35-foot ladder to get the person down. Photos posted to the agency’s social media accounts appear to show a man climbing down the ladder after being helped by a firefighter. It was unclear what happened to him after he got down. No injuries were reported. This was the second such rescue in two months. Last month, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department responded when three people became stranded after unsuccessfully trying to scale the 30-foot, steel bollard wall, according to a Border Patrol news release.
KTLA-TV WB 5 Los Angeles

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District adds 22 firefighters

The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District added 22 probationary firefighters to its ranks upon the graduation of Academy 54 recruits Feb. 13 in Walnut Creek. The probationary firefighters will fill slots due to retirements, the increased staffing of the district's truck companies to four personnel and the reopening of fire stations - including Fire Station 16 in Lafayette last September. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the graduates were given their orders. Christopher Cropley, who delivered the recruit's address to the Lesher Center audience, tore open his envelope and found that he was assigned to Lafayette Fire Station 15. "I am excited and eager to serve the residents of Lafayette," Cropley said. The new firefighters remain on probation for one year.
Lamorinda Weekly

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