Police used Boys & Girls Club play area to halt a disturbed man yesterday morning

Police received a call late Monday morning from a person who was concerned about the welfare of a man in the Thurston Trailer Park who was thought to have threatened to take his own life.

The address where police went backs up to a rear gate on the property of the Boys & Girls Club. According to information provided by a Club employee, officers came in and had the Club go into a lockdown mode so that police could approach the man via the back gate located on the concrete playground area outside.

When they took the man into custody before having him held for a 72-hour mental observation, there was a commotion that attracted the attention of nearby residents who called StuNewsLaguna.

No one was injured and police were able to subdue the man without the use of a taser or other major physical restraint.

Laguna man, 40, dies while driving on Glenneyre

Two police officers in a patrol car on Forest Ave who were about to turn onto Glenneyre heard the sound of a minor traffic crash Saturday afternoon at about 3:15. They quickly located the accident on Glenneyre at Forest involving a Volvo that had rear-ended another car.

Sgt. Louise Callus said Monday, “Two medical doctors witnessed the [crash] and were administering CPR to the driver of the Volvo. The man was in full cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived. A defib shock briefly restarted his heart but he went back into full arrest.”

The man, identified by the OC Coroner’s office as Christian Thomas Medina, 40, Laguna Beach, was taken to Mission Hospital here and pronounced dead about an hour after the traffic incident.

Sgt. Callus said police believe that Medina suffered a heart problem while driving on Glenneyre, which caused the accident.

Traffic was shut down at Forest and Glenneyre creating a major traffic jam in the downtown area for more than an hour.

Newly arrived homeless man sets Main Beach boardwalk on fire Wed morning

 

Police said a homeless man who had recently come to town from the central California mountain town of Tehachapi tried to stay warm by lighting a fire under the boardwalk at Main Beach early Wednesday morning.

Sgt. Louise Callus said an employee of the Mobil Station reported a strong odor of smoke wafting from across Coast Hwy at Broadway but saw no fire.

“Officers arrived a little after 4 a.m. and located a fire under the boardwalk near the basketball courts,” Callus said. “They woke up a man sleeping there, moved him to safety, and tried to put the fire out with extinguishers from their patrol cars.”

The effort by the cops was unsuccessful and the fire department was summoned to put out the stubborn blaze in the planks of the boardwalk.

“There was significant damage,” police said.

Mario Victor Ghisalverti, 44, no fixed address, was charged with causing a fire of property, a misdemeanor.

“When he was questioned, Mr. Ghisalverti admitted to setting the fire. He said he had been cold and lit newspapers and other loose items to get warm,” said Callus. He apparently became comfy enough to doze off and the fire he’d set spread to the planks.

Police said he was aware of the alternative sleeping location but explained to them that he had been too late to get in there.

Sgt. Callus added, “When he was being handcuffed, he told the officers, ‘…at least I will have a place to sleep tonight where it’s warm.’”


Narcs seized $50,000 in Ecstasy pills last week

As part of an ongoing investigation, Laguna undercover narcotics investigators arrested two Fullerton men and seized 5,000 Ectasy pills last Wednesday night.

The street value of the drugs, commonly used at rave parties, is estimated to be $50,000.

The narcs had arranged to buy ecstacy and met their seller on a Cal DState Fullerton parking lot.

The two men taken into custody, both 21 were Dennis Haw Gue Oh, Anaheim and Gee Won Kim from La Palma.

Both face charges of possession of a controlled substance for sales.

 

Crime in the OC is no different than what
we see on television

I’ll admit it – I can’t get enough of the Law and Order shows, Cold Case and the CSI programs. Every night, you can watch hours of such programs on cable and it usually doesn’t matter to me if I’ve seen an episode a year or two before. That said I am able to also say with certainty that many others in Laguna, male and female, young and old, have told me they’re hooked as well.

Long before cable TV, the “whodunit” was always a top selling genre of books, magazines
and movies.

Most readers know that I have been covering the cops, fire and courts relating to Laguna Beach far longer than anyone else doing so in town. Before that, the law was second only to baseball as my passionate hobby.

OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ Public Affairs Counsel provides press releases filled with the details about important cases that have been or are being prosecuted by his office. I have always read them but only when they have a direct bearing on Laguna Beach have I written anything.

What always stood out is how the OC has crimes of all types that mirror the whole country – and cable TV. And, many of the crimes are closer to home than I believe most Lagunans realize.

Press releases from the DA’s officer will be printed here without much editing and without comment – just for readers’ knowledge awareness and entertainment with the caveat that the DA’s office isn’t interested in presenting the side of the accused.

Stu Saffer

This week from the OC DA’s office…


DNA led to brother and sister charged with robbery & murder

Oct 25 – A brother and a sister have been charged with the robbery and murder of a Santa Ana man by gaining entry into his home by pretending to be fruit salesmen.

Siblings Alejandro Romero, 31, and Gladys Romero, 33, both of Santa Ana, are each charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of robbery, kidnapping, and burglary with an additional sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury and death. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. They are being held without bail.

On June 5, 2000, Gladys Romero is accused of posing as a door-to-door fruit saleswoman and gaining entry into Juan Gomez’s home by asking for a glass of water. Once inside, Gladys Romero is accused of opening the door to allow her brother, Alejandro Romero, to enter the victim’s home. Both defendants are accused of being armed with firearms.

The defendants are accused of tying up Gomez and his family in the living room of the home. Gomez struggled and was able to break free from his ties. Alejandro Romero is accused of struggling with Gomez and shooting the victim. Gladys Romero is accused of then shooting Gomez when he was on his knees. The defendants are accused of stealing a purse and fleeing the scene. Gladys Romero is accused of leaving her own purse at the scene.

Gomez died at the scene. His family freed themselves and called the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD), who investigated this case. SAPD Crime Scene Investigators collected DNA evidence at the scene.

The case remained unsolved and without a suspect for 10 years. On Sept. 30, 2010, DNA taken from Gladys Romero on a misdemeanor conviction was linked to DNA that was taken from her purse left at the murder crime scene. The DNA evidence along with witness statements connected the defendants to the case.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

CFO and accountant charged with stealing over $1.5 million by processing over 800 fraudulent checks to themselves

Oct 21 – A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and accountant have been charged with stealing over $1.5 million from their employer by processing over 800 unauthorized checks to themselves.

Maria Lorena Vega Yarrish, 40, Buena Park, is charged with 40 felony counts of computer access and fraud. Co-defendant Eric Wayne Helgemo, 50, Vista, is charged with 38 felony counts of computer access and fraud. Both defendants face sentencing enhancements and allegations for property damage over $1.3 million, causing loss over $100,000, and aggravated white collar crime over $100,000. If convicted, Yarrish faces a maximum sentence of 37 years in state prison and Helgemo faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in state prison.

The defendants are being held on $1.5 million bail and are required to prove that bail money is from a legal and legitimate source.

In August 2000, Yarrish is accused of being hired as a human resources representative for Pacific Polymers, Inc., a chemical sealant company. In January 2002, Helgemo is accused of being hired by the same company as the Vice President and CFO. Helgemo directly supervised Yarrish. She is accused of having the responsibility of processing employee timesheets using a computer payroll and paycheck system. Helgemo, who prepared financial reports for the company owner, is accused of having the responsibility of reviewing the weekly payroll and paycheck reports upon completion by Yarrish.

Between 2003 and 2008, Yarrish and Helgemo are accused of stealing over $1.5 million from Pacific Polymers by processing between one and 11 fraudulent paychecks per pay period for the two defendants. Helgemo is accused of taking 593 fraudulent payments amounting to over $1.1 million. Yarrish is accused of taking 229 fraudulent payments amounting to over $340,000. The fraud went undetected for several years, as Helgemo was entrusted to monitor Yarrish’s work.

In June 2008, Pacific Polymers was sold to Illinois Tool Works, Inc. (ITW) and the defendants’ jobs were subsequently eliminated. The theft was discovered after the purchase by ITW during an audit of Pacific Polymer’s finances. The case was investigated by the Garden Grove Police Department.

Deputy DA Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.

 

Woman, 82, arrested for domestic violence after allegedly using knife against spouse

Police went to a home on Chiquita Street in North Laguna after a 9-1-1 call reporting that a husband and wife were fighting inside their home.

The caller said the woman, who was 82, had tried to stab her 83-year-old husband with a kitchen knife. Once the knife had been taken away, the woman bit her husband causing injuries that had to be treated by paramedics.

Police said the couple (whose names will not be used) has no history of domestic violence but added that records will be checked closer.

The call came in at 7:59 Wednesday night and complete details were not immediately available on Thursday.

She was charged with felony domestic battery causing injury with bail set by statute at $50,000.

Sex offender charged for molesting a 5-yr-old boy in Orange lived here until recently

Investigators seek public’s help re: other possible victims

Needham PhotoAs reported here on Friday, a 27-year-old registered sex offender was accused of molesting a boy, 5, in Orange. We now learn that he committed the June 15 crime while still a registered sex offender with the Laguna Beach Police Department.

Sgt. Louise Callus of LBPD said Nicholas James Needham registered as a sex offender in Dec of 2004 until July of this year when he notified the PD that he was moving to the City of Orange.

Needham was arrested at his current Santa Ana residence and charged with molesting a five-year-old boy in a public restroom at the Block of Orange on June 15 and possessing thousands of images of graphic, amateur child pornography according to the OC District Attorney’s office.

Needham allegedly entered a restroom that day at 12:45 p.m. and stood at a urinal next to a five-year-old boy. Needham, according to the OCDA, reached over and touched the boy’s privates then left. The boy immediately told his mother who had been waiting outside of the restroom.

She called police who looked at security video, which led them to suspect Needham, who didn’t know the boy.

A search warrant resulted in his arrest and turned up videos and thousands of photos of graphic/explicit child pornography on his iPod mostly of young boys from infancy to early teens.

The DA said the videos and photos appear to have been produced with amateur equipment. As such, investigators are trying to identify the children and are asking and encouraging anyone with additional information or who believes they might also have been a victim to contact Orange Police detective Leslie Franco at (714) 744-7572 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Randy Litwin at (714) 347-8794.

Needham was released from jail after he posted $250,000 bail and was arraigned Friday at Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Woman offers to have sex with cop in order to be let go from Thursday morning arrest

The female passenger in a car whose driver was going through field sobriety tests during an early morning traffic stop on Coast Hwy at Aliso Beach was arrested along with a male passenger for resisting/delaying/obstructing an officer…for a start last Thursday.

Police said Terri Ann Gibbs, 50, Dana Point and Newport Beach resident James Patrick McHenry, 43, “…started interfering by yelling things out the window and disrupting the process.  Officers kept asking them to stop, but they wouldn’t,” said LBPD Lt. Jason Kravetz. They were removed from the black BMW that had been stopped and arrested for resisting.

Meanwhile the driver, identified as Moline, Illinois resident Sarah Navarro, 49, was arrested for DUI and also charged with felony cocaine possession when a quantity was found during a search.

A subsequent search of Gibbs turned up a straw with cocaine inside adding a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance. According to LBPD Lt. Jason Kravetz, Gibbs “…asked the officer if she could have sex with him to make the incident go away.”

The officer decided she was serious and charged her with another felony, offering a bribe to a police officer.

Ed. Note: LBPD officers are required to carry a digital recorder when on duty, which can be used as evidence in court


Crime in the OC is no different than what
we see on television

I’ll admit it – I can’t get enough of the Law and Order shows, Cold Case and the CSI programs. Every night, you can watch hours of such programs on cable and it usually doesn’t matter to me if I’ve seen an episode a year or two before. That said I am able to also say with certainty that many others in Laguna, male and female, young and old, have told me they’re hooked as well.

Long before cable TV, the “whodunit” was always a top selling genre of books, magazines
and movies.

Most readers know that I have been covering the cops, fire and courts relating to Laguna Beach far longer than anyone else doing so in town. Before that, the law was second only to baseball as my passionate hobby.

OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ Public Affairs Counsel provides press releases filled with the details about important cases that have been or are being prosecuted by his office. I have always read them but only when they have a direct bearing on Laguna Beach have I written anything.

What always stood out is how the OC has crimes of all types that mirror the whole country – and cable TV. And, many of the crimes are closer to home than I believe most Lagunans realize.

Press releases from the DA’s officer will be printed here without much editing and without comment – just for readers’ knowledge awareness and entertainment with the caveat that the DA’s office isn’t interested in presenting the side of the accused.

Stu Saffer

This week from the OC DA’s office…


Man to be arraigned for murdering ex-girlfriend after arguing over money to care for their 8-year-old daughter

Oct 18 – A man was arraigned Monday afternoon for murdering his ex-girlfriend by beating her to death after she asked for money to take care of their 8-year-old daughter.

Arturo Tapia Salazar, 42, Garden Grove, is charged with one felony count of murder and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted. The people requested $1 million bail.

On the afternoon of Oct. 15, 2010, 52-year-old Cristina Ramirez arrived at Salazar’s Garden Grove apartment. He is accused of engaging in an argument with his ex-girlfriend after she asked for money to care for their 8-year-old daughter. Salazar is accused of hitting and beating Ramirez repeatedly and strangling her to death.

The victim died at the scene due to strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head. Witnesses called 911. Garden Grove police arrested Salazar at the scene.

Senior Deputy DA Cameron Talley of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Husband charged with murdering estranged wife by shooting her in Santa Ana home

Oct 18 – A husband has been charged with shooting and murdering his estranged wife in her Santa Ana home.

Jose Antonio Garcia, 36, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison. Garcia is being held on $1 million bail and is expected to be arraigned in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

On the morning of Oct. 16, Garcia is accused of taking a firearm and going to the Santa Ana home of his estranged wife, 34-year-old Adriana Garcia. The defendant is accused of violating a restraining order, which the victim had obtained against him as a result of his past violence against her. Garcia is accused of murdering the victim by shooting her in the head and leaving her body in a bedroom.

After the murder, the defendant is accused of using his cell phone to call 911. Responding officers located Garcia sitting inside his car near the crime scene. The defendant is accused of being in possession of a firearm at the time of his arrest.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Mike Murray of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Long Beach Police officer to be arraigned for DUI

Oct 18 – A Long Beach police officer will be arraigned today on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and weaving in and out of traffic lanes.

Eddie Sanchez, 30, is charged with one misdemeanor count each of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more with a sentencing enhancement allegation for having a blood alcohol level of .15 percent or more. If convicted, Sanchez faces a maximum sentence of six months in jail. He is scheduled to be arraigned today, Oct. 19.

At approximately 4:30 p.m., on May 24, 2010, Sanchez is accused of consuming several alcoholic beverages at a bar in Long Beach. He is accused of leaving the bar to go to a friend’s house in Stanton. The defendant is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, stopping his 2003 Nissan Altima at green lights, and weaving in and out of traffic lanes. While waiting at a red light, Sanchez is accused of not moving when the light turned green. After several vehicles behind the defendant honked their horns, the driver behind Sanchez got out of his car, walked over to the driver’s side of the Nissan and turned off the engine.

A witness called 911 and Garden Grove police arrived at the scene. The defendant is accused of performing poorly on his Field Sobriety Test and exhibiting signs of intoxication including slurred speech and emitting an odor of alcohol from his breath. At the time of the arrest, Sanchez is accused of having a blood alcohol level of .16 percent, two times the legal limit.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Pevney is prosecuting this case.

Two charged in kidnapping of 2 and 4-yr-old brothers; a warrant has been issued for the children’s father & grandfather

*Law enforcement is seeking the public’s help in locating the two victims and their abductors

Oct 12 – Two defendants have been charged for their role in the kidnapping of 2 and 4-year-old brothers from outside of their Anaheim home. A warrant has been issued for the victims’ father and grandfather, and law enforcement is seeking the public’s help in locating the outstanding fugitives and the children.

Abraham Fernandez, 23, Houston, Louis Mendoza Fernandez, 52, Houston, and David Daniel Nicholas, 26, Monrovia, are each charged with two felony counts of kidnapping and two felony counts of child abduction. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of nine years and eight months in state prison. Abraham and Louis Fernandez have $500,000 warrants for their arrest. Nicholas is being held on $500,000 bail.

Co-defendant Linda Fernandez, 29, Monrovia, is charged with four felony counts of accessory after the fact and faces a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison if convicted. She is being held on $500,000 bail.

Abraham Fernandez has two sons with his former live-in girlfriend, from whom he is estranged. Approximately one year ago, Abraham Fernandez’s former girlfriend moved to Anaheim from Texas with the two boys, 4-year-old John Doe #1 and 2-year-old John Doe #2.

At approximately 7:45 p.m. on Oct. 7, 2010, the two victims were in an alley with their mother near their apartment. Abraham Fernandez and his father Louis Fernandez are accused of driving into the alley in a silver Dodge Caravan and quickly stopping the car. Louis Fernandez, who had been driving, is accused of getting out of the vehicle and grabbing John Doe #1, who was standing next to his mother. Louis Fernandez is accused of putting the victim in the back of the van using the sliding side door.

Abraham Fernandez is accused of then getting out of the van and taking John Doe #2 from his screaming mother’s arms. The defendants are accused of getting back into the vehicle and speeding in reverse out of the alley as they fled the scene. Witnesses called 911 and the Anaheim Police Department responded to the scene. An AMBER Alert was immediately issued for the silver van.

After the kidnapping, the defendants are accused of driving to Monrovia to hide at a relative’s home. Nicholas and his wife Linda Fernandez, Abraham Fernandez’s cousin, are accused of harboring the defendants at their Monrovia home knowing that the children had been illegally abducted and were being sought by police. Nicholas is also accused of assisting in the child abduction by renting the van for Abraham and Louis Fernandez to use in the kidnapping. Early on the morning of Oct. 8, 2010, Nicholas is accused of returning the rented van to Ontario International Airport. Anaheim police officers contacted Nicholas that day after receiving information that the defendants and victims may be at his Monrovia home. Officers learned that the van had been returned and was no longer being used by the defendants.

Nicholas was arrested at his home on Oct. 10, 2010, for his role in the kidnapping. Linda Fernandez was arrested at the home the next day for assisting the defendants after the abduction.

Deputy DA Jim Bacin of the Child Abduction Unit is prosecuting this case.

Man charged with assaulting OC sheriff’s deputy and trying to take her firearm during physical struggle

Oct 7 – A man has been charged with assaulting an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy by trying to take her firearm and physically struggling when she attempted to arrest him.

Thomas Andrew Spence, 26, Mission Viejo, is charged with one felony count each of assault with a firearm on a peace officer, removing a firearm from a peace officer, battery on a peace officer with injury, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a firearm. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 18 years in state prison.

At approximately 9:40 p.m. on Oct. 6, 2010, Spence is accused of lying outside between two bushes near Armstrong Garden Center in Laguna Niguel with his hands down his pants, which were undone. OC Sheriff’s Deputy Michelle Rodriguez observed the defendant and attempted to contact him. When Spence saw the deputy, he is accused of removing his hands from his pants and beginning to run away.

When Deputy Rodriguez caught Spence, the defendant is accused of becoming aggressive. As the deputy attempted to detain the defendant, Spence is accused of struggling with her and grabbing her flashlight. Deputy Rodriguez drew her firearm and ordered the defendant to put down the flashlight, fearing that he may use it as a weapon against her. As Spence put the flashlight down, he is accused of advancing toward the deputy and grabbing her firearm with both hands.

The defendant is accused of struggling with the deputy to take her firearm. Deputy Rodriguez fired the weapon twice before it jammed. Spence was not hit. Spence is accused of finally letting go of the firearm and attempting to flee the scene. Responding back-up deputies arrived and, with Deputy Rodriguez, arrested the defendant.

The deputy suffered scratches and abrasions to her temple, hands, elbow, knees, and hip. Deputy District Attorney Israel Claustro of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.

Police officer charged with forcibly sexually assaulting two women whom he had briefly dated

*Law enforcement is seeking the public’s help in identifying potential additional victims

Oct 5 – A police officer has been charged with forcibly sodomizing two women, both of whom he had met in a dating capacity.

Jesse Andrew Green, 33, Huntington Beach, is charged with two felony counts of forcible sodomy and faces a maximum sentence of 16 years in state prison if convicted. Green has been a police officer with the Garden Grove Police Department since 2006. He is currently on non-paid administrative leave. The defendant also worked for the Calexico Police Department from 2004 to 2006.

On April 26, 2006, Green is accused of going to the Santa Ana home of Jane Doe #2, a 41-year-old woman he had met online and had been dating in a short-term on-again, off-again relationship. The defendant is accused of forcibly sodomizing the victim against her will as she screamed and struggled to get away. During the sexual assault, Green is accused of making derogatory and intimidating statements to frighten the victim. He is accused of then leaving Jane Doe #2’s home.

On Nov. 6, 2009, Green is accused of going to his Huntington Beach apartment with 40-year-old Jane Doe #1, whom he met through a mutual friend, after having dinner on their first date. The defendant is accused of forcibly sodomizing the victim against her will as she screamed and struggled to get away. During the sexual assault, Green is accused of making derogatory and intimidating statements to frighten the victim. Jane Doe #1 was eventually able to break free and run out of the apartment.

Both victims were extremely reluctant to report the sexual assault to law enforcement, fearing that Green may use his position as a police officer to retaliate against them. The two victims do not know each other. The Santa Ana Police Department investigated the case involving Jane Doe #2 and the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) investigated the case involving Jane Doe #1.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Green today, Oct. 5, 2010. He was called in to the Garden Grove police station and arrested by HBPD officers.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information or who believes they are a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising DA Investigator Randy Litwin at (714) 347-8794 or HBPD Michael Szyperski at (714) 536-5988.

Deputy DA Eric Scarborough of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.

Man charged with murdering mother’s houseguest by stabbing him in the chest

Oct 5 – A Santa Ana man has been charged with murdering his mother’s houseguest by stabbing him in the chest with a pocketknife.

Saul Jose Salazar, 27, is charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in state prison.

This October, 33-year-old Antonio Verdugo-Cabrera was staying at the home of a family friend, Salazar’s mother, in Santa Ana. The defendant is accused of having been served with a restraining order barring him from going near his mother based on prior violence toward her. On two occasions in the three days prior to the murder, Salazar is accused of violating the restraining order by showing up at his mother’s house.

At approximately 11 p.m. on Oct. 3, 2010, Salazar is accused of becoming angry with Verdugo-Cabrera. He is accused of having an altercation with the victim in front of his mother’s home and murdering Verdugo-Cabrera by stabbing him one time in the chest with a pocketknife. Salazar is accused of then fleeing the scene.

The defendant’s mother called 911 and the Santa Ana Police Department responded to the scene. While officers were investigating the murder, Salazar is accused of returning to the scene to turn himself in. He is accused of being in possession of a bloody knife.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Last three major house fires in Laguna had one thing in common – no operational smoke alarms

October is Fire Prevention Month

“Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With”

The Laguna Beach Fire Department (LBFD), in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) effort to better educate communities throughout the U.S. about smoke alarm recommendations is promoting the theme “Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With!” for October’s Fire Prevention Month.

The Fire Dept has known that many homes in Laguna Beach may not have any smoke alarms, not enough smoke alarms, alarms that are too old or alarms that are not working.

That was borne true in three home fires that all but destroyed three residences here in August and September. Fire Dept officials believe that operational smoke alarms in the three homes may have substantially reduced the damage.

LBFD encourages residents to understand that working smoke alarms are needed in every home, on every level (including the basement), outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom. Furthermore, if a smoke alarm is 10 years or older, it needs to be replaced.

Smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death in a fire. NFPA statistics show that working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire nearly in half. But they must be working properly to do so. The association’s data shows that many homes have smoke alarms that aren’t working or maintained properly, usually because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries.

Roughly two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

LBFD offers the following tips for making sure smoke alarms are maintained and working properly:

Test all smoke alarms at least once a month and make sure everyone home knows their sound.

If an alarm “chirps,” warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.

Replace all smoke alarms that are 10 years or older.

Never remove or disable a smoke alarm.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

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Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillepsie  Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

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