Friday, August 29, 2014


from abc

Friday, August 29, 2014

Two people were killed in a fire at a three-story apartment building in Encino Thursday night.

The blaze broke out on a third-floor unit in the 5300 block of Lindley Avenue around 9 p.m. It took more than 100 firefighters to fully extinguish the flames in about one hour. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Fire officials say a 98-year-old mother was found dead in her bed, and her 74-year-old son was found dead outside on the balcony. Seven other people were injured, including a firefighter who suffered a hand injury.

Firefighters say the home had smoke alarms, but they did not appear to be working properly. Officials say this is becoming a more common problem and they plan to distribute free smoke alarms and fire safety information to residents in the neighborhood Friday morning.

There have been 20 fatalities related to a structure fire in Los Angeles this year, according to the LAFD.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sprinkler extinguishes fire at St. Paul nursing home

from fox

Posted: Aug 25, 2014 2:17 PM PDTUpdated: Aug 25, 2014 4:00 PM PDT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -
Firefighters in St. Paul say a recent fire at a nursing home should dispel rumors perpetuated by Hollywood movies that fire sprinkler systems always douse a whole building when they engage.
Early Monday morning, firefighters were called out to 512 Humboldt Avenue after alarms began to sound. Nursing home staff found a light fixture in one of the bathrooms had caught fire at 2:20 a.m. -- but a single fire sprinkler saved them thousands of dollars in damage.
Best of all, none of the residents were ever aware of the ordeal and were able to sleep through the night undisturbed. Firefighters say the incident is proof that they were well-protected by the sprinkler system, which was installed only a year and a half ago. Officials emphasized that only one sprinkler needed to extinguish the fire. In fact, that's usually the case because only the fire sprinklers heated by the flames actually engage.

Even so, films ranging from the 1995 cult classic "Hackers" to modern Hollywood blockbusters like "The Incredibles" have featured scenes where fire sprinklers engage and soak everyone inside. Usually, the gag is a laugh grab -- butsafety advocates say the result is no laughing matter. They argue that those scenes create a false perception that all occupants and belongings would be drenched, which makes homeowners opt out.

Meanwhile, those in favor of passing laws to ensure that new construction projects include fire sprinkler systems say homes are where sprinkler systems are most needed. The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition estimates that only 2 to 4 percent of residential properties had them in 2010 even though a federal report called for increased sprinkler protection in homes decades ago. The CDC estimated that 85 percent of all fire deaths occurred in homes based ondata from 2009.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

City researching voluntary residential fire sprinklers


August 20, 2014
By JIM LINETTE (jlinette@breezenewspapers.comCape Coral Daily Breeze

Despite hesitation on the part of several council members on the subject of residential fire sprinklers, Councilmember Rana Erbrick's request to revisit drafting such an ordinance gained the support of City Council at the end of Monday night's regular weekly meeting.
A mandatory fire sprinkler system ordinance was proposed in 2013 by former Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz. It sought to make the installation of fire sprinkler systems a requirement on all new homes built in the Cape. The controversial regulation eventually was shot down for several reasons, including cost.
Erbrick asked to bring the subject back for discussion and research by herself and staff for consideration on a strictly voluntary basis. The main point of contention with going forward with a voluntary ordinance is that anyone building a new home in the city currently is not restricted from installing a sprinkler system.
"I don't see the benefit of creating an ordinance if homeowners can install systems now," offered Councilmember Derrick Donnell.
Council member Rick Williams also voiced a concern on the value of passing such an ordinance when systems currently are allowed voluntarily.
"I don't want people to think we are just dredging this up again after it was turned down as a mandatory ordinance," said Williams.
Both, however, were in favor of seeing the results of staff's research and proposals before actually deciding whether they support such an ordinance.
"This is gaining traction throughout the nation," said Cape Fire Chief Donald Cochran. "Where it's coming from is the Fire Marshals associations. The whole issue with it the last time was it was mandatory. There is still a lot of confusion out there because homeowners can install systems now. I don't want us to rush into it. We need time to work through the details, meet with stakeholder groups like builders, engineers, utilities and fire personnel."
Several issues that need discussion and research are incentives, permitting, impact fees, cost and what to do if someone doesn't pay their water bill.
"One solution could be to have a dedicated line so if a water bill doesn't get paid we can still turn the water off to the home while leaving the sprinkler system charged," said Utilities Director Jeff Pearson, who estimated it would take several months for staff to make recommendations to council.
Other council news
The lone public hearing scheduled on a resolution up for a vote earlier in the meeting sailed through by a unanimous vote. That ordinance creates a Local Agency Program agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation to construct sidewalks on Cape Coral Parkway from Agualinda Boulevard west to Southwest 29th Avenue. The DOT is granting the city more than $400,000 for the project.
"This would complete sidewalks on Cape Coral Parkway all the way to its western end," said Public Works Director Steve Neff. "It is part of more than $7 million in state grants over the past five years for sidewalk construction."
Councilmember Jim Burch was presented with a Home Rule Hero Award by the Florida League of Cities at the start of the meeting. The award is given each year to a local elected official who goes above and beyond by advocating not only for their own community but all across the state.
Burch modestly said the award is a special honor and highly coveted, but represents hundreds of other people with whom he worked in reaching out to the Florida Legislature and other governmental agencies.
Council also approved an expenditure of $58,000 to conduct a CRA Needs Analysis study and preparation of a redevelopment plan to create a CRA district for the Mid-Cape Industrial Park.
"This is something that has been talked about for over two years," said Erbrick. who is also the CRA chair. "It is time to move forward and see if this area could benefit from the CRA designation."
Council also approved a $9,500 award through the Employee Innovation Program for Michael Murphy, an electrician at the Everest Water Reclamation Plant. Murphy's idea saved the city more than $1 million in cost connected with an expansion project at the plant as well as recurring operating cost savings.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Junction fire destroys eight Oakhurst structures; evacuations ordered (video)

The Fresno BeeAugust 18, 2014 Updated 1 hour ago
 — A fast-moving brush fire in Oakhurst Monday sparked a massive evacuation of residents and tourists from the foothill community as fire crews from throughout the region tried to keep the flames from spreading.
Named the Junction fire, the blaze quickly blackened about 1,200 acres in the north end of town and beyond. The fire briefly threatened a pair of massive propane tanks at Suburban Propane along Highway 41 when the company's building was ignited by a spot fire. Fire crews ordered most people to move back a quarter-mile from the business, and firefighters were ready to abandon the fight if flames got too close to the tanks themselves.
"The tanks are going to do what they are going to do and it's going to be bad," one fire official was heard saying on a radio.
In the end, the tanks were spared. Other structures were not so lucky.
As of 9 p.m., eight structures were destroyed, and at least 500 more were threatened. Gov. Jerry Brown's office announced late Monday that a federal emergency grant will help defray 75% of the firefighting costs.
Two firefighters were injured, and one was taken to a hospital for evaluation, fire officials said.
The fire prompted officials to close Highway 41 and evacuate hotels and other businesses along the route. More than 13,000 homes and businesses were given evacuation orders, according to the Madera County Sheriff's Office.
Wildfires have been a worry for Oakhurst residents since 1961, when the Harlow fire, stoked by winds, roared across more than 42,000 acres around the town in a little over two days. It has long been regarded as one of the fastest-moving fires on record.
Only a wind change spared the town, which had far fewer residents and homes than it has today.
Rhonda Salisbury, Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau marketing director, said Oakhurst hasn't seen a fire that significant in more than 50 years.
"We're all ready to get out our hoses," she said. "We love this town and community and these firefighters have had such a hard time in the last couple years. We want to do what we can to help, but there's not a lot of water and it's hot and dry."
With a big plume of smoke towering over the town on Monday, businesses were shutting down early. Salisbury added that it was difficult to know whether they were closing because of the evacuation, or just to get out of the way of firefighters. "They basically need us all off the road."
The blaze was reported as a plume of smoke about 1:50 p.m. Don Stein, the division chief for Madera County Cal Fire, said the fire started in the area of a known homeless encampment near Road 425-A and Quail Drive on the northeast edge of Oakhurst. Still, fire officials were uncertain what sparked the fire.
"We haven't made a determination on the cause," he said.
The fire started in the northern end of Oakhurst and was initially moving away from the community. But when the winds shifted to the southeast, he said, the fire moved toward town.
About 5:30 p.m., the winds shifted again, pushing the fire back toward the northeast. That's about when Pacific Gas & Electric Co. cut power to nearly 4,000 customers in and around Oakhurst, spokesman J.D. Guidi said. By Monday night, power remained out for about 2,000 customers.
By nightfall, the fire had jumped Highway 41 and was spreading near the Lewis Creek drainage area below Bass Lake where the terrain is steep, the brush is overgrown and there is a lot of fallen timber.
Evacuating Oakhurst
Firefighters from Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and Madera County as well as other local fire departments, including the Fresno and Hanford fire departments, converged on Oakhurst. Helicopters and air tankers also were called in to help.
As fire crews jammed roads getting into Oakhurst, residents and tourists -- and picture-takers -- jammed the roads out of town, creating a frenzy as worried residents asked Madera County sheriff's deputies questions about the fire and the evacuation. Road closures also complicated the evacuation.
As of Monday night, road closures remained in effect for Highway 41 at Road 426, Road 222 at Road 274, and Highway 41 at Road 222. In addition, anyone planning to enter or leave Yosemite National Park was advised to take a different route than Highway 41.
As fire alarms sounded Monday afternoon in nearby buildings, Oakhurst residents and National Park tourists gathered outside a local Rite Aid eating ice cream.
Cody Goodwin, Greg Steffen and Jesse Gallet waited for a call from Tenaya Lodge where they work to see if they were going in to work Monday.
"It's a snow day for us until the roads are open," Goodwin, 31, said. "As long as we're waiting, we're getting paid."
Dave and Kathy Schollman were on their way back from Sequoia National Park. The Minnesota residents landed in Seattle last week and were touring the national parks along the West Coast.
They stayed in the Best Western Oakhurst Sunday night, and because of Highway 41 closures they weren't able to retrieve their luggage.
"Every time I come to California something happens,' Dave Schollman said. "Last time we were here was for the 1989 earthquake. I guess my bucket list is complete."
Clinging to hope
For many others, however, the fire and evacuation order left them close to tears and searching for information.
"It's tense, but calm," said Jessica Piffero, an American Red Cross information officer staffing an evacuation center at the Oakhurst Community Center. "People are worried about their homes and properties and possessions. We're working together with other government agencies so that everything goes as smoothly as possible."
The Oakhurst evacuation center wasn't open long -- the center was ordered closed about 6 p.m. because of the fire's proximity.
Evacuees were then directed to go to Coarsegold where the Red Cross set up shelter at the Coarsegold Community Center on Highway 41. The evacuees and Red Cross officials had to use Road 425 since Highway 41 was closed.
In Coarsegold, a man sitting on a bench smoked a cigarette with a scanner in hand, waiting to hear if his house had burned down. Families gathered around cell phones to get updates on the fire. Tears were shed as new updates were shared.
About 150 Oakhurst residents had gathered at the Coarsegold community center as of Monday evening, according to the Red Cross. The Red Cross plans to open a second shelter at the Yosemite Lakes Park Community Church on Patrick Avenue in Yosemite Lakes Park. Animals are permitted at the Coarsegold shelter, but not at the Yosemite Lakes Park shelter, the Madera County Sheriff's Office said.
In Coarsegold, Red Cross workers were helping get people set up with cots and blankets. Gatorade, water and snacks were brought by Scott Browar and his son, Austin. They are both residents of Coarsegold.
"These people are our neighbors," Scott Browar said. "We are just trying to help any way we can."
In the gravel parking lot, a group of mobile home residents sat in folding chairs, nervously waiting to hear if they were homeless. Corkie Swalm has lived in her Oakhurst mobile home for 10 years.
"My son called me and said, 'Mom, grab your cat and start driving! That fire is headed straight for you'," Swalm said.
As tears filled her eyes and fire trucks whizzed past, Swalm realized she didn't grab anything of value.
"You just go completely blank when something like this happens," Swalm said. "I didn't grab a single thing."

School closures Tuesday
  As a result of the fire, Yosemite Unified School District officials announced school closures for Tuesday:
• Wasuma Elementary School and Ahwahnee Middle School, both in Ahwahnee
• Oakhurst Elementary and Oakhurst Intermediate School and Yosemite High School, all in Oakhurst
Staying open are Rivergold and Coarsegold elementary schools in Coarsegold.
For more infomation, go to #FIREDAYSCHOOLSCHEDULES on Twitter.
Staff writers Brianna Vaccari, Sarah Shoen and Eryn Baldrica-Guy contributed to this report. The reporters can be reached at and