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Category: Fire

Firefighters on scene as smoke pours from Reseda grocery store

Approximate location of fire shown in black.

Los Angeles Fire Department crews were on the scene early Monday as smoke billowed from a grocery store in a Reseda strip mall.

TV images just after 5 a.m. showed thick smoke rising from the roof of the DVIN Market Deli Grocery at the intersection of Sherman Way and Yarmouth Avenue. The supermarket is a one-story building in a mixed-use development.

The smoke was coming from a heater vent in the attic of the supermarket, KTLA reported.

Sherman Way was barricaded for one block to the east and to the west to accommodate fire trucks and personnel.

The LAFD could not be immediately reached for comment.

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twitter.com/laura_nelson

Map: Approximate location of fire shown in black. Credit: Los Angeles Times Mapping L.A.

Firefighters revive cat rescued from burning apartment

Glendale firefighters clean up the mess left by an apartment fire on Doran Street. Credit: Roger Wilson / Times Community News

Glendale firefighters were able to revive a cat that was pulled from a burning second-story apartment unit Monday.

No one was injured in the blaze that was reported about 10:15 a.m. at the Fort Dearborn Home complex in the 400 block of West Doran Street, said Glendale Battalion Chief Vincent Rifino.

Flames from the second-story unit quickly spread to the apartment above, but firefighters were able to contain the blaze and keep the fire from spreading to other units.

After pulling the unresponsive cat from the second-story apartment, firefighters administered oxygen atop a nearby car and were able to revive the animal as crews continued to battle the blaze, Rifino said.

Residents in the two affected apartments will be displaced, Rifino said, adding that the cause of the fire remained under investigation.

The cat was released to animal control officials for further treatment.

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-- Veronica Rocha, Times Community News

Photo: Glendale firefighters clean up the mess left by an apartment fire on Doran Street. Credit: Roger Wilson / Times Community News

Dog wakes owners, saving them from fire in their home

Family members are crediting their dog with waking them up when she sensed a fire, before the smoke detector.

Late Sunday night, the family along Woodchuck Way in Citrus Heights woke up to the 3-year-old pug, and moments later the smoke alarms rang out, Fox40 in Sacramento reported.

Firefighters were able to suppress the fire quickly, to keep it from damaging a large portion of the house. No one was injured.

Investigators say the fire may have been caused by discarded cigarette butts on the back patio, which caused an outdoor fire that reached into the attic of the home.

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170 firefighters knock down Valley Village apartment complex fire

Fire

More than 170 firefighters have knocked down a “major emergency” structure fire at a Valley Village apartment complex Wednesday, authorities said.

Firefighters first were called out to the 5200 block of Bellingham Avenue around 10 a.m. for a fire reported in a second-floor unit of a three-story apartment complex. They rescued two residents from a balcony with ladders, officials said in a statement.

Few details were available, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey.

He said paramedics were evaluating people who could be ill or injured at the scene but could not provide details on how many people were being examined or the extent of any injuries.

Humphrey said it was unclear if the fire had spread from the single unit to other parts of the building, but he stressed that the fire was “active.”

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Photo: David Dassa, 76, was evacuated from his apartment in the 5200 block of Bellingham Avenue after fire broke out in a unit on the second floor. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Northbound 5 Freeway reopened after deadly crash near 110

All lanes of the northbound 5 Freeway at the 110 interchange have reopened following a deadly collision that left one person dead, authorities said Friday morning.

At 7:54 a.m. the freeway reopened, said Officer Cheyenne Quesada with the California Highway Patrol.

“It’s moving right along just fine,” Quesada said.

The northbound side of the freeway was closed Friday morning after a high-speed pursuit of suspected robbers led to the crash.

The incident began when police received a 1:46 a.m. call about a robbery at a 7-Eleven store off East 4th Street and South Cummings Street in which a suspect drew a knife, said Sgt. Peter Gamino of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Responding officers saw a vehicle driving recklessly in the area and attempted to stop the vehicle, which led to the pursuit, Gamino said.

In the course of the chase, the suspect's car collided with another vehicle and flipped over, sending cash into the air and trapping two people in the car, he said.

One suspect was pronounced dead at the scene and another was taken into custody immediately.

A third suspect was taken to the hospital, Gamino said.

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Residents flee Wilshire Boulevard condo blaze

More than a dozen people fled a four-story condominium fire at about 1 a.m. Wednesday, firefighters said.

An elevator and air conditioning unit on the roof of a complex off Wilshire Boulevard and South Rossmore Avenue was on fire and extended into the attic.

Three condos were heavily damaged by the flames, firefighters said.

No one was injured and officials were investigating the cause of the fire.

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13 O.C. firefighters disciplined in alleged haircut hazing ritual

The Orange County Fire Authority has disciplined 13 firefighters in connection with an alleged hazing incident in which half a dozen firefighters from Laguna Hills were spotted with strange, Mohawk-like haircuts.

The authority said it determined that the six firefighters, all on probationary status, had cut their own hair in strange styles, or had been forced to get extreme haircuts.

The hazing incident, and the haircuts, were deemed to be "unprofessional conduct," fire authorities said.

Fire managers launched their investigation in April 2012 after someone reported seeing the firefighters in uniform eating at an In-N-Out Burger with haircuts that were described as reverse mohawks.

Battalion Chief Kris Concepcion said one of the probationary firefighters sported a bright red painted head. Concepcion said the department has "grooming standards." A subsequent investigation determined that some of the firefighters had cut their own hair but in some cases the hair was chopped by colleagues.

Because of personnel laws, Concepcion said he could not describe the specifics of the discipline. All of the firefighters are still employees of the department, he added.

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Families react to death penalty in forest fire arson case

Rickieleefowler
The children of a victim of the 2003 Old Fire in San Bernardino County told the judge who sentenced the convicted arsonist to death Monday that the defendant's actions had destroyed their lives.

“It’s still very hard for me to think about the week that turned my world upside down,” said Ashley Taylor, who was 15 when her father, Robert Taylor, died of a heart attack after evacuating during the fire. “I still feel the pain every day."

Rickie Lee Fowler was sentenced to death Monday for setting the blaze at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains in September 2003.

“Rickie Fowler should be put to death," Superior Court Judge Michael A. Smith said inside the San Bernardino courtroom, adding that the evidence of Fowler’s guilt and life of violence were overwhelming.

With his eyes fixed on the judge, Fowler showed no response as the sentence was read in open court. He sat alone in the jury box wearing a forest green jail jumpsuit, clutching a piece of paper.

After the hearings, Fowler’s attorney, Don Jordan, said his client was made a “scapegoat” by the district attorney’s office and law enforcement agencies, which were under immense pressure to solve the arson.

The death sentence will automatically be appealed to the California Supreme Court.

Jordan, in an hour-long statement before the sentencing, said evidence has surfaced indicating that Fowler was at a friend’s house when the Old Fire broke out.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Bullock, who prosecuted the case, said after the sentencing, “The evidence in the case is overwhelming. Thankfully for the victim and the community, there’s finally a conclusion.’’

After the hearing, the son of Robert Taylor said the death sentence offered some justice for his family and the thousands who suffered because of the devastating wildfire. “I’m glad he’s going to death row,’’ said Jesse Taylor. “He’s hurt a lot of people over the years. Not just my father."

The prosecutor said Fowler deliberately set the blaze in Waterman Canyon in a fit of rage against his godfather, who had kicked Fowler out of his house at the top of the canyon.

The fire broke out Oct. 25, 2003, at Old Waterman Canyon Road and California State Highway 18. Flames raced through the forest and brush, forcing the evacuation of more than 30 communities and 80,000 people. Six men died of heart attacks, although prosecutors said one could not be directly attributed to stress from the fire.

A few months later, on Christmas Day, a huge debris flow caused by rain on the denuded slopes of the burn area swept through a church camp in Waterman Canyon, killing 14 people. Fowler was not charged in that incident.

Investigators said they questioned Fowler shortly after the fire but did not have enough evidence to arrest him. Another suspect, Martin Valdez, 24, was fatally shot in Muscoy, near San Bernardino, in 2006. At the time of the fire, witnesses reported seeing Fowler and Valdez in a white van throwing a flaming object into Waterman Canyon.

Much of the prosecution's case hinged on comments Fowler made in 2008 in which he acknowledged to investigators that he was attempting to burn down the home of a friend, but denied that he was the one who set the blaze. Fowler told investigators that he went to the back of the van and took out a flare, but that Valdez grabbed the flare and tossed it.

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Photo: Rickie Lee Fowler in court in 2012. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Death penalty imposed for 2003 Old Fire in San Bernardino County

072982.ME.1029.fire4.jp

A methamphetamine addict with a violent history was sentenced to death Monday for setting the 2003 Old fire in San Bernardino County that destroyed 1,000 homes and led to five deaths.

A jury in August convicted Rickie Lee Fowler of murder and arson for the blaze, which prosecutors said he deliberately set by tossing a lighted road flare into brush at the base of the mountains on an October day when Southern California already was overwhelmed by wind-fed wildfires. The same jury recommended in September that Fowler be sent to California’s death row.

Superior Court Judg170240.ME.0127.Fowler.006.IK (1)e Michael A. Smith on Monday agreed, sentencing Fowler to death.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Bullock had portrayed Fowler as a sadistic felon who inflicted "misery and mayhem" on those who crossed his path throughout his life. The prosecution said he raped and brutalized two girlfriends, one of whom was pregnant with his son, and sodomized a jail cellmate, turning him into a "sex slave."

Fowler's attorneys said in September that they planned to file a motion for a new trial, arguing that the prosecution did not present any direct evidence showing that Fowler had set the blaze or that the deaths were intentional. All five deaths were due to heart attacks triggered by the stress
of the fire, according to prosecution testimony.

The prosecutor said Fowler deliberately set the blaze in Waterman Canyon in a fit of rage against his godfather, who had kicked Fowler out of his house at the top of the canyon.

The fire broke out Oct. 25, 2003, at Old Waterman Canyon Road and California State Highway 18. Flames raced through the forest and brush, forcing the evacuation of more than 30 communities and 80,000 people. Six men died of heart attacks, although prosecutors said one could not be directly attributed to stress from the fire.

A few months later, on Christmas Day, a huge debris flow caused by rain on the denuded slopes of the burn area swept through a church camp in Waterman Canyon, killing 14 people. Fowler was not charged in that incident.

Investigators said they questioned Fowler shortly after the fire but did not have enough evidence to arrest him. Another suspect, Martin Valdez, 24, was fatally shot in Muscoy, near San Bernardino, in 2006. At the time of the fire, witnesses reported seeing Fowler and Valdez in a white van throwing a flaming object into Waterman Canyon.

Much of the prosecution's case hinged on comments Fowler made in 2008 in which he acknowledged to investigators that he was attempting to burn down the home of a friend, but denied that he was the one who set the blaze. Fowler told investigators that he went to the back of the van and took out a flare, but that Valdez grabbed the flare and tossed it.

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-- Phil Willon in San Bernardino

Photos: Old Fire burning near Running Springs in 2003; Rickie Lee Fowler in court in January 2012. Credits: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times; Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Fire damages church near El Cajon; suspected arsonist arrested

A 38-year-old man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of arson, burglary and committing a hate crime in an early-morning fire that did $250,000 damage to a church near El Cajon, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.

Darin Williams was booked into county jail just hours after the fire at St. Gregory of Nyssa Greek Orthodox Church, officials said.

There were no injuries in the fire, which was reported at 4 a.m. The fire is under investigation by the sheriff's bomb/arson unit and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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