IRVINE A firefighter/paramedic died Thursday after collapsing during a routine training exercise at the Orange County Fire Authority drill grounds, the OCFA said. James M. Owen, a 30-year OCFA veteran, went into full cardiac arrest just before 11:30 a.m. at OCFA’s headquarters in Irvine. “They had broken for break, and he just collapsed,” OCFA Capt. Greg McKeown said. Owen was taken to Western Medical Center – Santa Ana, where he was pronounced dead at 12:30 p.m. “He was a top-notch firefighter,” McKeown said. “To lose him like this is a tragedy.” Owen began his career with OCFA in 1980, spending most of his tenure at an Irvine station on the agency’s hazardous materials team. McKeown described him as an iconic figure at OCFA, known for his “hard work ethic and zealous generosity.” Owen, 56, is survived by his wife Sharon, sons Jim Jr., Daniel and Kevin.
SUN VALLEY — A fire that damaged a produce market in Sun Valley was being investigated today. The fire was reported at 9:57 p.m. Monday in the 8800 block of North Lankershim Boulevard, just south of San Fernando Road, said Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Fire crews had to use power saws to get into parts of the building. About 50 firefighters were on scene when a knockdown was declared at 10:21 p.m., Scott said. The business that caught fire is called Silver Produce, which sells fruits and vegetables, according to reports from the scene. No injuries were reported. An investigation was under way to determine the cause of the fire, Scott said early today.
The northbound 101 Freeway was closed near downtown early Thursday after a fiery big-rig crash. A big rig crashed and burned at about 4 a.m. on the northbound 101 Freeway, just north of the 101-110 freeway interchange. At about 8 a.m., the northbound 101 Freeway remained closed near Beaudry Avenue. A Sigalert was issued at about 5:30 a.m. The road was cleared and reopened at about 10:30 a.m., but not before a major traffic tie-up as motorists headed out of downtown LA. The northbound freeway transition road from the 110 Freeway was reopened at about 6 a.m. and traffic moved slowly past the burned big rig. The truck’s trailer was loaded with clothes. Authorities said the big rig crashed into the center freeway divider and rolled. The driver told NBCLA that he was cut off by another motorist. “I hit the brake and the truck jack-knifed,” said driver Ivan Flores. “I tried to control it but it hit the curb. It started on fire, and that’s when I jumped out.” Fuel spilled and spread across multiple lanes, and some emergency responders were advised not to come on the freeway. At least one rescue squad had to bring its truck on the freeway at Glendale Boulevard and drive south on northbound lanes.
HESPERIA • Smoke from a grass fire was blowing across Interstate-15 Thursday afternoon and forced closure of the southbound lanes of Mariposa Road between Ranchero and Oak Hill roads, officials said. The fire was first reported a little before 2 p.m., according to California Highway Patrol officials. Officials were uncertain as of 2:30 p.m. when the road would be reopened. San Bernardino County Firefighters have the blaze under control, according to officials. A witness told the Daily Press visibility was down to at least 20 feet in the vicinity of the fire.
HESPERIA • Firefighters worked for nearly two hours protecting homes from a three-acre fire that broke out Sunday afternoon, San Bernardino County Fire officials said. The fire was reported at about 3:30 p.m. near Chase and Danbury streets, according to Capt. Tracy Carlton. “When firefighters arrived on scene, there was moderate vegetation with light winds punching it toward the homes,” Jay Hausman, spokesman for the Fire Department, said. “We used an aggressive attack with manpower and hoselines, preventing it from destroying any of the homes lining the ridge.” According to fire officials at the scene, the fire bumped up to the backyard property lines of some of the homes, but they were able to keep the flames from causing any damage. “They had (the fire) under control in about 30 minutes and then there was about a two-hour mop up,” Hausman said. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Fire officials remind homeowners to have at least 30 feet of defensible space around their property.
ADELANTO • Fire ripped through a vacant house late Monday night destroying the structure and threatening a nearby home, San Bernardino County Fire officials said. The fire broke out at a home in the 11800 block of White Avenue a little before midnight, Tracey Martinez, spokeswoman for the Fire Department, said Tuesday. “It was pretty breezy at that time and firefighters were concerned the flames may spread to a home to the east of (the burning structure),” she said. Firefighters had the blaze under control after about 30 minutes, she said, but despite their efforts, the home was completely destroyed. Earlier this year, officials were called out to the same vacant home for a smaller fire, Martinez said. Authorities shut off all the utilities to the house following the first fire. No one was seen leaving the scene Monday night and cause of the latest blaze is still under investigation.
APPLE VALLEY • With persistent concerns over fire safety in town, Councilman Rick Roelle has questioned the status of a station that now often appears shuttered, asking for details on whether response times have slowed. A letter included in the agenda for Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting states fire station 336, on Yucca Loma Road near Apple Valley Road, isn’t closed. Instead, Chief Art Bishop with the Apple Valley Fire Protection District said it’s now staffed with 20 paid-call firefighters. A fire engine, water tender and other equipment are also still housed at the station. “As far as response times are concerned,” the letter from Bishop states, “the Fire District maintains, and remains committed to, the sub six-minute response, 90 percent of the time, within the Town of Apple Valley.” A report from AVFPD provided by Bishop shows response times dropped between 2008 and 2009, from an average in the high- and medium-density areas of 6 minutes flat two years ago to 5 minutes, 53 seconds in 2009.
Lucerne Valley Calif. (KABC) — What was supposed to be a night of fun quickly turned deadly when an off-road truck plummeted into the crowd during a race, killing eight people and injuring at least 12 others. Authorities said six victims died at the scene and two died after being taken to a hospital. Paramedics brought six people – five adults and a child – to Loma Linda University Medical Center, spokesman Herbert Atienza said Sunday. He had no information on their condition. Other injured victims were believed to be taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center. The crash happened around 8 p.m. on Saturday during the California 200 Off-Road Race, in the Soggy Dry Lake Bed near the city of Lucerne Valley.There were no barriers separating the crowd from the dirt track, and the onlookers are in very close proximity of the speeding vehicles. There are no rules or regulations as to where spectators can stand. The truck had just gone over a jump known as “the rockpile” before it barreled through the crowd and came to rest upside down with its wheels pointing into the air, just two miles into the start of the race. Spectators rushed to the truck and about half a dozen people flipped it upright to try to help at least one person pinnedunderneath. The driver was uninjured but had to run from the scene when the crowd became unruly. Some spectators began throwing rocks at him. It was not clear why he lost control of the truckThere was no medical personnel standing by at the scene. “At first, it was a lot of yelling and a lot of screaming. I panicked and we ran down there to check on everyone and there were people laying on the floor. It was quite scary,” said Jonathan Davy, who witnessed the crash. “I looked back to talk to my friend Rick and I saw the car roll a little bit and I saw blood on the floor and people trying to give CPR. Everybody was trying to help,” said another witness. Seven ambulances and 10 emergency aircraft responded to the remote location, trying to get the most seriously injured victims to the hospital as soon as possible. The California 200 Off-Road Race is very popular, drawing thousands every year. The length of the race is approximately 50 miles and the trucks reach speeds up to 100 mph. The California Highway Patrol and the federal Bureau of Land Management are investigating the incident. The event was sponsored by the South El Monte-based Mojave Desert Racing.
APPLE VALLEY • A brush fire that broke out shortly before 3 p.m. Friday near the Mojave Narrows had turned into a third-alarm fire by 3:30 p.m., sending smoke billowing into the sky. Multiple fire units were dispatched to the area near the Lewis Center for Educational Research, along Highway 18 and Apple Valley Road. A Bureau of Land Management helicopter was also called to the scene and made a water drop on the fire, according to initial reports. Though the fire was burning directly behind the Lewis Center’s Academy for Academic Excellence charter school, Jennifer Eisenbrey, spokeswoman for the Apple Valley Fire Protection District, said the school wasn’t threatened as of 3:30 p.m. Kids in the area were reportedly evacuated to the nearby Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Tuscola Road, according to initial reports. Orangish-gray smoke soared into the sky and could be seen several miles away.
The initial report of the incident was for a vegetation fire in the vicinity of 5th and J Street with one engine responding. The unit assigned to the incident noticed a large plume of smoke and called for a full fire response prior to arriving on scene. The first unit on scene found a grass fire that ignited palm trees and two small residential structures and an unknown rescue situation. The first arriving chief officer called for a second alarm due to the complexity of the incident. The fire caused heavy exterior damage to both homes; however, firefighters were able to extinguish the fire before flames damaged the inside. One resident was home but exited unharmed and the other was away at the time. Both residents were displaced due to the damage that was sustained by the fire, one resident did request assistance from the Red Cross while the other received shelter from family. In addition to the structure damage, 22 palm trees and approximately a quarter acre of grass burned. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
Date: August 5, 2010
Location: 987 West Spruce Street, San Bernardino, CA
Time of the call: 22:22
First Unit on the scene: ME-222 at 22:27
Number of Units: 12
Number of Firefighters: 35
Property Loss/Damage: $15,000 per residence; total $30,000
Contents Loss: None
Property Saved: $45,000 per residence; total $90,000