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Southern California Fire Journal.Com

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

To all of our readers, friends and family across the Globe, Happy New Year. May it be prosperous, filled with love and kindness.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Greater Alarm Structure Fire 1014 Highland, LAFD 41

Hollywood CA: The Los Angeles City Fire Department responded to a structure fire at 1014 N Highland Av; MAP 593-E6; Cross Street of Romaine, Fire Station 41; Heavy smoke was showing upon arrival. Engine 41 laid a large diameter supply line and began fire attack operations in the rear portion of the building. Three additional task forces were ordered to assist with fire attack and ventilation. Upon entry firefighters found approximately 100 dogs inside of the kennel. The fire was quickly knocked down in approximately 30 Minutes by 95 firefighters.

Photos Jeff Zimmerman

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bank Robbery, Palmdale

Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputies surrounded Chase Bank this afternoon around 12:30 in the busy Palmdale Mall on Rancho Vista Bl after an unknown suspect robbed the bank and then fled on foot towards the Mall. The suspect left behind articles of clothing in the parking lot as he ran through the crowded parking lot. Sheriff deputies tried to establish a perimeter around the mall and the bank and called in a helicopter for support. Crime under Investigation by FBI and County Sheriff detectives.

Photos Jeff Zimmerman

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Flash Flood Warning

Flash Flood Warning

505 PM PST SAT DEC 12 2009

505 PM PST SAT DEC 12 2009




Jonathan Smith Arrested for Arson Homicide, Palmdale

Jonathan Smith, 25, was arrested on suspicion of homicide in an early morning house fire in Palmdale Ca. Smith an ex-convict was arrested after detectives found stolen items in his home that were removed from the home on Autumn Mist Dr prior to the fire. Alfonso Gonzalez, 36 was found dead in a down stairs closet in the Palmdale home after an early morning fire destroyed the home on November 28, 2009. Many items had been removed from the house prior to the fire which lead detectives to the suspicion of murder, burglary and arson. The fire was reported to La County Fire Department officials around 5:00am on November 28, 2009 in the Amber Ridge neighborhood just south of Elizabeth Lake Road near 20th street west. A correctional officer on his way to work noticed the fire an alerted 911 and tried to make entry into the burning home, but there was just to much heat and smoke which pushed the officer out of the burning home. Gonzales official cause of death has not been released by Sheriff Corner detectives as of yet.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jesusita Wildfire Update

Trail Gnomes Charged in Jesusita Fire
Misdemeanors Could Mean Fines, Jail Time, and Civil Penalties for Craig Ilenstine and Dana Larsen

Thursday, December 10, 2009
By Ray Ford & Chris Meagher

More than seven months after the Jesusita Fire scorched nearly 9,000 acres of the Santa Barbara front country — destroying 80 homes, damaging another 15, seriously injuring numerous firefighters, and costing $17 million in its wake — two men have been charged in connection with the start of the fire.

On Thursday, the District Attorney’s office filed charges against Craig Ilenstine, 50, and Dana Larsen, 45, who have each been hit with one misdemeanor count of not obtaining a “hot work” permit when they were allegedly doing trail work on May 5, 2009, the day the fire broke out. The D.A.’s press release indicated that the investigation and evidence collected by the fire investigation team showed that Ilenstine and Larsen were using gas-powered weed cutters to trim vegetation along the Jesusita Trail in the area where the fire started at approximately 1:45 p.m. It’s been long speculated that the fire was caused by trail work of this type, which is usually conducted by volunteers who are known colloquially in hiking and mountain biking circles as “trail gnomes.”

The charge is a violation of California Fire Code, Chapter 26, Section 2601, which requires that a permit must first be obtained from the fire marshal for any “welding, cutting, open torches, and other hot work operations and equipment.” To get such a permit, applicants must demonstrate an ability to take precautions to prevent a wildfire, including — but not limited to — having firefighting equipment onsite and monitoring the area for at least 30 minutes after the completion of work to make sure that there is no danger posed by smoldering materials. According to the D.A.’s office, neither man obtained the required work permit, there were no fire extinguishers at the work site, and no one stayed afterwards to check for hot spots.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jerry Lulejian, who is prosecuting the case, wouldn’t say whether there were other people on the trail at the time. He wouldn’t comment further on any of the facts of the case beyond what was contained in the press release. “I don’t want to talk about the circumstances in any more detail,” he said.

A study by The Independent of GIS parcel maps shows the start of the fire was within the Los Padres Forest but on the edge of land owned by the county and land owned by the La Cumbre Ranch Living Trust. The trail itself is managed by the U.S. Forest Service through this section via an easement that dates back to the 1960s. From the evidence, which included cleared brush and cut weeds and grass, work was being done both on the county and La Cumbre Ranch private holdings and on the trail managed by the Forest Service.

There are concerns in the trail user community as to the charges’ implications. Getting permits for trail work and other trail-related activities is neither a common practice nor one that those who frequently do trail work have historically been expected to know about. Santa Barbara boasts numerous established volunteer organizations that frequently conduct trail improvement projects, including trainings and all-day workshops. According to one such volunteer who’s done 14 years of trail work, this is the first mention of a hot work permit. “None of the local volunteer organizations have ever been informed about, or required to have a hot work permit in the past,” he said.
County Fire spokesman Capt. David Sadecki, whose department oversees county and state lands as it applies to the use of hazardous equipment, said he didn’t know of anyone who has applied for a permit from County Fire for work on the trails in the past. Jurisdiction can be complicated, he said, as trails pass through city, county, federal, and private land. Kerry Kellogg, the wilderness trail manager for the Santa Barbara District of the Los Padres National Forest, said that, to his knowledge, neither man had participated in any prior trail projects in the forest.

Despite community sentiment calling for much harsher charges — especially given the lack of serious prosecution for those thought to be the cause of the November 2008 Tea Fire — the D.A.’s office determined after a lengthy investigation that it would not bring felony charges against the men. That’s due to a “good faith belief” that the D.A. could not “prove beyond a reasonable doubt the required mental state” needed to convict the men of felonies.

What prosecutors do intend to do, however, is seek restitution on behalf of the victims of the Jesusita Fire, a pricetag that’s floating in the millions of dollars, considering the injured firefighters and destroyed homes. “Restitution is a constitutional right for victims of any crime,” Lulejian said. The prosecution will not have to prove during the trial that the alleged crime itself is the causation of the fire, but the connection will have to be made at the sentencing hearing, when the judge will determine whether restitution should be given to victims. Restitution aside, the maximum potential criminal penalty for the misdemeanor is $25,000 fine and 90 days in jail.

The matter will also find its way to civil court, as Cal Fire, the state’s fire department, could pursue civil cost recovery to recoup the costs of fighting the fire, according to spokesman Daniel Berlant. “Cal Fire does have the authority to recover those costs if there was negligence,” he said. Officials at the state level are still determining whether there was a violation of law or negligence, as well as still totaling the amount of costs to the state. There is a lesser burden of proof in civil claims.

Both men have been sent letters requiring that they appear in Santa Barbara Superior Court for arraignment on January 15, 2010. Ilenstine is being represented by attorney Sam Eaton, whose receptionist said the attorney is not taking calls on this matter. A message left with Ilenstine was not returned. A man who answered the phone at the law offices of Larry Powell and Michael Damen — whose attorneys are representing Larsen — said they would be faxing a statement sometime soon. Beyond that, not much is known about the two men charged with crimes, though it appears Ilenstine is a San Marcos High School graduate from 1977, owns a Santa Barbara tile company, and has participated in mountain biking races.
Lulejian — a prosecutor from the D.A.’s North County office — prosecuted the men who started the Zaca Fire in 2007, and noted his experience in fire-related prosecutions as a primary reason he took the Jesusita Fire case. Over the months, various prosecutors have hinted at a potential conflict of interest for many prosecutors in the office, because of the homes affected by the fire. Acting D.A. Joshua Lynn himself had to defend his home from the fire at one point. Lulejian wouldn’t comment on how long the D.A.’s office has been reviewing the facts and evidence of the case, nor on how many prosecutors in the office were involved in the decision.

The D.A.’s office came under scrutiny in its handling of the start of the previous fire to scorch Santa Barbara, the Tea Fire, which damaged or destroyed more than 200 homes. Again citing the need to have proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the D.A. filed misdemeanor charges against the 10 alleged to be responsible for the fire. At the end, the 10 — who were mostly Santa Barbara City College students — pleaded no contest to trespassing and, as part of a plea deal, a charge of having a fire without a permit was dropped. The members of the group received 75 hours of community service and a $500 fine as their sentence.

Meanwhile, the D.A.’s office is currently appealing a Superior Court judge’s decision to not make the men who caused the Zaca Fire in the summer of 2007 pay restitution. Originally charged with five felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, as well as special allegations of arson with aggravating factors, Jose Cabrera, Santiago Cervantes, and Rancho La Laguna LLC, saw those charges thrown out by Judge Zel Canter, who determined the workers’ actions didn’t amount to recklessness. Instead, the judge explained that federal officials allowed the fire to burn in different directions, so those who started the fire were no longer responsible for what happened. As such, charges against Cervantes and the LLC were dropped, and Cabrera pleaded no contest to a lesser misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to probation and a $200 fine. The D.A.’s office recently filed its brief in this appeal, and the defense will be filing its appeal next month.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Flood Advisory for Burn Areas, SO CAL

The National Weather Service in Oxnard has issued a

* Flood Advisory for...
Los Angeles County in southwest California...
this includes areas in and below the station... Morris...
Sayre... marek and sesnon burn areas

* until 500 am PST Friday

* at 1050 PM PST... National Weather Service Doppler radar showed
a large area of moderate to locally heavy rain spreading across
Los Angeles County... including the Antelope Valley. Rain will fall
at rates of between one tenth and one third of an inch per hour
overnight... causing widespread ponding of water on area roadways
and local flooding of low lying areas and intersections. Rainfall
rates could occasionally approach one half inch per hour in
heavier showers. Rain at these rates would cause at least minor
mud and debris flows in and around the recent burn areas...
especially near the station burn area above La Canada and La

Residents near the recent burn areas should remain vigilant about
the rain and possible debris flows overnight.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Interstate 5 Closed do to Snow and Ice

The CHP closed Interstate 5 last night do to snow and ice along the Grapevine stranding motorists for several hours. County and State snow plows worked around the clock to help open the freeway. CHP had to escort vehicles through the pass until noon today until black ice melted along the highway. Another winter storm is predicted for late Wednesday and Thursday. The new storm is to bring much higher amounts of rainfall to the region creating the need for evacuations in areas of the Station Wildfire area surrounding the Angeles National Forest do to the possibilities of mud slides.

Photo Jeff Zimmerman

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Another Long Night in the Pit, South Central

Another long night in the pit, responded from Compton to Anaheim 4 alarm blaze. To T/C on Interstate 5 at Mission, then over to a car fire in South Central at 104th and Denver, LAFD 64, possible stolen auto. Overturned vehicle later in the night in County 38 on Angeles Vista.

Rain and Snow to Ease Drought for So Cal: Winter Storm Warnings for Mountains

Heavy rain and snow forecast for next week look like the beginning of a big change in the current weather pattern and perhaps a signal that the end of California's three-year-long drought is near.

The finale to the region's long spell of mild late fall weather will come in three stages, said Dave Reynolds, chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service's forecast office in Monterey.

The first is a weather front expected late Sunday that is forecast to bring rain to Northern California and "a fairly low snowfall," down to 2,000 feet. The Weather Service forecast for early next week calls for chilly temperatures in the Bay Area with a chance of snow dusting the higher hills.

And that storm is only the curtain-raiser.

Reynolds thinks it will be followed by a powerful series of storms, with more rain on the coast, large ocean swells up to 25 feet high and heavy snow in the Sierra. These storms, which are forecast to hit about Tuesday and last the rest of the week, are likely to be the strongest in the region over the last seven years, Reynolds said.

"This is a very dramatic change," he said. "The storm door is open."

The third stage of the winter will come in January in what could be the development of an El NiƱo condition, which, if it works out, could end the drought.

The early December storms will bring the usual: poor driving conditions, high winds, possible power outages and flooding - and a silver lining.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Caution: Weather Statement Snow and Rain for So Cal

Snow and rain predicted for late Sunday and Monday for the Station wildfire burn area. Precipitation can range from .50 to 1.50 inches and snow as low to 4000 feet. More rain is predicted for Wednesday and Thursday with larger amounts of precipitation.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A very sad day for the Fire Service, We lost Jim Perry Local 112 Today

I am sad to announce the death of Brother Jim Perry from UFLAC Local 112, retired Captain. Jim was killed in an early morning vehicle accident in Reno Nevada this morning. Our most sincere sympathy's are extended to his family and members of the LAFD. More information as it comes available.

Glendale Greater Alarm Structure Fire

Greater alarm structure fire, 550 West Colorado Bl near Interstate 5 and Pacific Streets. City of Glendale firefighters responded not once, but twice to the same building to find working fires inside the structure. Transients may to be to blame for the fires.

Photos Ryan Babroff, EPN

House Fire, Homicide/Arson 1737 Autumn Mist:

The Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to a house fire at 1737 Autumnmist in Palmdale about 06:00 last week and found a two story single family dwelling well involved with fire, with fire showing from the roof and two upstairs bedrooms. The fire was controlled in about 30 minutes. This incident is now being treated as a homicide/arson case by Los Angeles County Sheriffs detectives as human remains were found inside the home.

Weather Notice for Rain: Caution in Burned Areas

A low-pressure system carrying the potential for rain is expected to move into the Los Angeles area Sunday morning, said Stuart Seto, a specialist for the National Weather Service in Oxnard. There will be a 20% chance of rain Sunday, a 30% chance Monday and a 20% chance Tuesday. Seto said light rain is expected but he is uncertain about the overall level of intensity.]
It remains unclear how much rain the Los Angeles area will get over the weekend. Officials in the burn areas around Angeles National Forest are most concerned about sudden bursts of heavy rain, which can cause mud flows. Authorities have said the danger for mudslides is extreme in neighborhoods directly below areas that burned in the Station fire.

Last month, relatively modest "micro-bursts" of rain sent mud and water flowing down some streets, raising concerns about what a bigger storm could produce.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Car Fire 43367 16th Street West, LACOFD

LA County Firefighters made quick work of a fully involved vehicle fire in a car port at 43367 16th Street West, Lancaster. Station 134 found a well involved car with exposures to the carport, adjacent vehicles and an apartment complex. The fire was knocked down in 10 minutes.

Photos: Jeff Zimmerman, copyright Zimmerman Media LLC