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Laguna Beach

Police Files

Man steps off bus in SoLag and is threatened by man with a knife 

A man called 9-1-1 and reported that when he stepped off a bus at 3rf Avenue and Coast Hwy in South Laguna at 8:57 a.m. Sunday, another man dressed in a camouflage outfit approached him with a knife.

“He asked if I wanted to fight,” the RP told police. 

LBPD Sergeant Tim Kleiser said the RP turned and walked away and called 9-1-1. 

Officers responded and located William Thomas Moore, 52, no fixed address, and placed him under arrest for felony assault with a deadly weapon. 

Bail was set at $25,000.

68-yr-old bicyclist injured when he struck SUV Monday afternoon

Police and paramedics responded to Laguna Canyon Road and the 73 Toll Road at 2:44 p.m. Monday for a traffic crash involving a bicycle and a SUV.

Sergeant Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “The rider was a 68-year-old male from Laguna Beach and he was taken to Mission Trauma Center. The bicycle rider was making a right turn and struck the left corner of the SUV. The exact cause of the collision is under investigation.”

The man’s injuries included a concussion but he was stabilized. 

DUI enforcement patrols will deploy Friday night and a bike-pedestrian enforcement is set for this Sunday

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department’s DUI Enforcement Team will be deploying this weekend to stop and arrest alcohol and drug-impaired drivers in the Department’s ongoing traffic safety campaign. DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy on Friday, December 11, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests. 

On Sunday, LBPD will step up Bike & Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operations with focused enforcement on collision causing factors involving motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

The department has mapped out locations where pedestrian and bike collisions have occurred along with the violations that led to those crashes. Extra officers will be on duty patrolling areas where bike and pedestrian traffic and crashes occur in an effort to reduce deaths and injuries.

Funding for these programs is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For further information, please contact: Lieutenant Jeff Calvert at (949) 464-6655 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Police Files

Pair arrested with heroin in North Laguna

An observant and concerned resident in the 200 block of Grandview Street called police at 2:19 Friday afternoon. The RP told the dispatcher that two men had been in and out of a Chevy Blazer and had changed clothes “several times.”

Officers responded and while speaking with one of the two men near the Chevy Blazer, the other man went inside a nearby home.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Monday, “An officer went to the residence and spoke to the male and noticed that he appeared to be under the influence of a drug. He admitted to the officer he had used heroin.  He was also carrying a pack of cigarettes with a metal spoon that had been used to do heroin…”

LBPD booking photos

Bradford Belinda, 23 of Mission Viejo, was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia – both misdemeanors.

The Blazer was searched and, Sgt. Kleiser said, a digital scale, two packages containing heroin and used syringes were located as a result of the search.

David Phillips, 27, Aliso Viejo, was arrested for felony possession of heroin for sales and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Which came first?

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Photo courtesy LBPD

A dumpster ended up on the hood of BMW Friday morning at Coast Hwy and the exit from Blue Lagoon. Which was first – the dumpster of the BMW. According to the police log, the Waste Management truck backed up onto the 2012 BMW. That is unconfirmed but we do know that no one was injured in the 10:12 crash. 


Off duty detective spotted counterfeit suspect at Irvine Spectrum

On Nov 19, Montage Laguna Beach reported that a counterfeit $100 bill had been used by a man who made a small purchase there. The suspect had left the location.

LBPD Detective Larry Bammer was assigned the case and eventually identified a possible suspect. While off duty at Irvine Spectrum late Friday afternoon, Detective Bammer spotted the suspect and called Irvine PD.

Christopher Grier, 22, Mission Viejo, was arrested for felony burglary, felony credit card fraud and felony bad checks/drafts.

He was also held without bail for probation violation.

His car was searched and 11 counterfeit $100 bills were found inside.

Man threatened to “explode” a photog’s car when photo shoot canceled

A woman photographer called 9-1-1 Thursday morning and reported that a client who had showed up too late at Aliso Beach for a photo shoot was following her on Coast Highway. 

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD explained, “The suspect became upset and sent the victim a text message stating that he would explode her car. When the victim was driving on Coast Highway the suspect approached her in his car and cut her off. He also repeatedly applied the brakes on his car while in front of her in an attempt to have her rear end him. He allegedly also nearly struck a pedestrian in a crosswalk. 

“Officers spoke to both parties involved and arrested the male, 26-year-old Mickael Dessino from West Hollywood, for felony criminal threats and assault with a deadly weapon. Bail was set at $50,000.     

Reminder – police will be out enforcing pedestrian safety today

The Laguna Beach Police Department will step up Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operations today, Dec 8, with focused enforcement on collision causing factors involving motorists and pedestrians.

The department will be focusing on locations, since January 2011, where pedestrian involved collisions have occurred along with the violations that led to those crashes. Officers will be conducting directed enforcement at those locations looking for traffic offenses made by drivers and pedestrians alike that can lead to life changing injuries. 

Special attention will be given to drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in cross walks or any other dangerous violation. 

Additionally, enforcement action will be taken against pedestrians committing violations such as crossing the street illegally or failing to yield to drivers who have the right of way. 

Police Files

Car crash knocks down light pole – four people hurt

Four people were injured when a four-door black Infinity sedan and a Toyota pickup truck collided on S. Coast Hwy and Upland Road at 5:03 Friday evening.

Photo courtesy LBPD

The Infinity then ran into a concrete city light standard knocking it over onto the southbound lanes of Coast Highway (as shown in the photo above).

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD told us Monday, “The cause of the collision was not alcohol related and four were taken to Mission Laguna Beach Hospital.”

None of the injuries were said to be life threatening.

SCE responded to the scene to disable the power before the pole could be moved out of the roadway. Traffic was delayed for about three hours. 


Arizona man arrested for carrying concealed loaded 9mm pistol  

A patrol unit made a traffic stop on Laguna Avenue at 11:34 Thursday night and arrested the driver for carrying a concealed weapon.

After speaking with the driver and passenger, LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said, “The officer asked the driver of there were any weapons in the vehicle and the driver said there was knife inside the car. The officer had the driver exit the car and noticed he adjusted something on his waistband. The officer became concerned and searched the driver and found a loaded Ruger P89 9mm in his waistband.”

Dillon David Nelson, 23, Tucson, Arizona was arrested for misdemeanor carrying a concealed firearm.

In Arizona, it is legal to carry a concealed weapon. It isn’t legal in California.

Police Files

Drunk driver drives through Broadway & Coast onto Main Beach

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

A drunk driver drove down Broadway across Coast Hwy straight onto Main Beach

A cell caller informed police that a BMW was possibly being driven into downtown on Laguna Canyon Road Monday night at nine o’clock. Police responded to the downtown area on Broadway just in time, according to Sergeant Tim Kleiser, to see the black BMW “…drive west on Broadway, through the intersection at Broadway and Coast Highway, up and over the curb at Main Beach where it came to rest in the sand.”

Ashish Harji Kalthia, 41, Irvine, was arrested for drunk driving.

No one was injured.

Man charged with robbery steals from two Broadway stores

Police arrested Jerald Cousian for felony robbery at lunchtime Monday after it had been reported that he had accosted a Whole Foods employee who asked to see his receipt for items Cousian was holding as he left the store. The employee was not injured, police said.

Cousian left Whole Foods then allegedly walked down to Coast Hardware and swiped two flashlights.

Police did an area search and located Cousian, 47, no fixed address, hiding in an apartment complex close by. 

Cops will have increased DUI patrols for the weekend

From a LBPD press release

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department’s DUI Enforcement Team will be deploying this weekend to stop and arrest alcohol and drug-impaired drivers in the Department’s ongoing traffic safety campaign. 

DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy on Saturday, Nov 28 between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests.

In California, this deadly crime led to 867 deaths and over 23,000 serious injuries in 2013 because someone failed to designate a sober driver. Nationally, the latest data shows over 10,000 killed by an impaired driver. 

Over the course of the past three years in Laguna Beach officers have investigated 169 DUI collisions, which have claimed three lives and resulted in another 55 injuries.

Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment with officers checking drivers for proper licensing delaying motorists only momentarily. When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving, which now accounts for a growing number of impaired driving crashes.

Recent statistics reveal that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. 

A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol. Everyone ought to be mindful that if you’re taking medication – whether prescription or over-the-counter – drinking even small amounts of alcohol can greatly intensify the impairment affects.

Law Enforcement emphasizes the preventable nature of drunk driving reminding everyone that all it takes is a little planning ahead. Designate a sober driver or call a cab. But whatever you do, don’t drink and drive. 

The California Office of Traffic Safety DDVIP (Designated Driver VIP) mobile app is now available for free download on iOS and Android devices. Launched last year, the new DDVIP app offers enhanced features, allowing users to “Map a Spot” with their current location to find DDVIP partnering establishments in their area or a “List of Spots” to search all participating bars and restaurants throughout California. Users will be offered free incentives at each bar to celebrate their life saving role. 

They can stay up-to-date with the latest from DDVIP and see what other users are saying via its social tab. Also through the app, for those who want to imbibe but also make it a point to plan ahead, users can easily order a sober ride from Uber, Lyft or Curb – all from one screen.

The cost of a ride home is cheap, nothing compared to a $10,000 DUI conviction and the ‘inconvenience’ of not driving your own car home is nothing compared to the inconvenience of spending time behind bars.

Funding for this DUI operation is provided to the Laguna Beach Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Drivers – Call 9-1-1’.

Police Files

Motorcycle crosses into on-coming lanes on Broadway Thursday afternoon - slides into SUV injuring the 28-yr-old rider from Irvine


Photos by Ellen Coleman-Germano

Click on photo for a larger image


The above photo was taken just after the crash that happened at about 12:50 p.m.

A Harley Davidson motorcycle ridden by a 28-year-old Irvine man apparently took the inbound turn at Broadway and Forest Avenue too fast at about 12:50 Thursday afternoon. The bike went out of control and despite trying to lay it down on Broadway when he realized he would cross into on-coming traffic, the rider and bike slid into an outbound Ford Flex SUV.

The rider was stabilized at the scene by LBFD paramedics and taken by ambulance to Mission Hospital Trauma Center in Mission Viejo. He suffered some severe road rash and a possible broken leg, police said. 

Click on photo for a larger image


The motorcycle rider was stabilized by paramedics and taken by ambulance to Mission Trauma Center with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries.


Have you ever received a “Job Offer” email?

Then scammers are hammering a new avenue of finding consumers to defraud. Many people have received emails with a subject line of “Job Offer”. Opening the email there is a message telling the recipient that “mystery shoppers” or “customer service survey assignments” are being sought in “your” area.

The ruse has all the appearances of legitimacy with the use of certified checks or even wire transfers to the “employee” to go shopping after sending the mark impressive and official looking packets with products and survey data.

Of course, to show your good faith and that you won’t run off with their money, you are asked to send them certified funds in a much lesser amount by some manner.

A South Laguna resident sent $1500 by Western Union last week after receiving a check for a larger amount and depositing it at his bank as instructed.

It was a bogus check and the victim is out $1500.

Police Files

Cops observe man push his girlfriend to the pavement downtown on Ocean Avenue early Saturday morning

Mir Hosseini Arash, 25, Laguna Beach, was arrested for felony domestic battery and resisting arrest at 12:56 a.m. Saturday after approaching officers saw him forcibly push a woman causing her to fall on the sidewalk.

The incident happened in the 200 block of Ocean Avenue.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said, “Patrol officers first saw the male and female arguing in the middle of the street. They walked into a club but were quickly escorted out by security.”

The officers began to approach them when another man tried to stop the argument. Before the officers reached the couple, they saw Arash push the woman causing her to fall, according to Sgt. Kleiser. “The female sustained a cut to her face from the fall,” Sgt. Kleiser added. Police later learned that they were boyfriend and girlfriend and that the other man was the suspect’s brother.

The officers detained Arash after a short struggle.

He was booked with bail set by statute at $50,000.

Did all those sirens on Coast Hwy awaken you Friday?

We heard from several residents who were awakened in the wee hours Friday by sirens and a helicopter rushing northbound through the city on Coast Highway.

The OC Sheriff’s Department began chasing a stolen Mazda sedan in San Juan Capistrano at about 3:15. The Mazda, with three occupants, headed into Dana Point then northbound on PCH and into Laguna Beach.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said one Laguna patrol unit followed the chase through town beginning at 3:22. The Mazda and the six or more Sheriff’s units and the copter kept going north and into Newport Beach before entering the southbound 73 toll road.

The OCSD used a spike strip in Aliso Viejo to stop the Mazda and arrested the three men – all documented as San Clemente gang members – for felony possession of stolen property. 

Police Files

Human smuggling suspected at Crystal Cove as panga boat washes ashore

Laguna Beach Police, Newport Beach Police and California State Parks responded early yesterday morning, Monday, June 11, following a suspicious panga boat landing on the beach in the Reef Point area of Crystal Cove in what is believed to be a “human smuggling event.”

According to reports, authorities detected a craft in the ocean via infrared images showing what was believed to be a dozen or so passengers, until it was lost in the marine layer. 

All occupants were believed to have departed the area immediately upon reaching shore and have not been located since.

Police Files Panga Boat

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Laguna Beach PD

According to LBPD, a “human smuggling event” occurred at Crystal Cove on Monday when this panga boat washed ashore

“We found the boat around 6:30 this [Monday] morning,” said Jorge Moreno, Information Officer, OC Parks Dept.

He could not comment any further regarding the event and said that all other questions need to be directed to the CA Border Patrol. 

Shortly after 7 a.m., Laguna Beach Police deployed drones as part of the search effort.

By 7:35 a.m., LBPD reported that the suspects were outstanding and believed to have left the area.

“There were no people. It was already abandoned. There were just remnants in the boat,” said LBPD PIO Sgt Cota.

The panga boat was removed from the beach as the investigation continued.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact CA Border Patrol at (619) 216-4000.

Near record rescues by LB Lifeguards over weekend 

With warm summer-like weather over the weekend and large pounding waves, LB Marine Safety was slammed serving our beaches making a real difference. 

Swimmer at Pearl Street receives help from good Samaritan

On Saturday, June 10 at Pearl Street Beach, a 27-year-old Santa Rosa man reportedly ran into the water diving head first into the surf and hit his head. He was floating face down unconscious, when a good Samaritan aided him.

“At that point he was extracted by a good Samaritan and they began CPR,” said LB Marine Safety Captain Kai Bond. “Our units arrived and provided basic life support per our OC EMS standards.”

Police Files Pearl Street

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

A good Samaritan rescued an unconscious diver, providing CPR until help arrived

The man was taken to the hospital via ambulance with medics to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. His status is unknown.

The good Samaritan was reported to be a male, approximately 20 years old.

2-year-old toddler injured on rocks taken to Mission Hospital

A medical emergency call was received from an incident that occurred at the 100 Block of Mountain Road on Saturday, June 9 at 5:50 p.m. 

The incident happened at the rocks leading to the stairway at Mountain Road, according to Cpt Bond. 

According to reports, a father was holding his 2-year-old daughter when he slipped and fell onto the rocks. The toddler also fell, sustaining a head injury.

The 2-year-old child was transported to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo via a medic transport.

“Missing” boogie boarder found safe and unscathed on the beach

On Saturday, June 9 at 5:22 p.m. at Camel Point Drive, LBPD received a call about a missing person, a swimmer, in the ocean. It was reported that the missing swimmer was an 11-year-old boy with no shirt and pale black shorts, riding a boogie board.

“A child was reported to have gone missing in the water at Camel Point. The reporting party didn’t see the child and he was found approximately an hour later at Aliso Beach,” Cpt Bond said. 

According to the report, the OC Coast Guard was notified sending rescuers in Duke, a MEDEVAC-capable search and rescue helicopter.

The concerned citizen who alerted authorities reported that about an hour prior she had seen a yellow boogie board floating by itself.

Luckily, at 6:37 p.m., the young boogie boarder was found back on the sand.

Missing scuba diver at Crescent Bay found unharmed

On Sunday, June 10 at 11:08 a.m., it was reported that a scuba diver was missing from Crescent Bay.

Marine Safety, LBPD and LBFD responded.

“The reporting party said that they were separated from their dive partner approximately 400 feet off of the shore at the north end of Crescent Bay Beach,” Cpt Bond said. “Lifeguards commenced a search of the area. The diver came up out of the water at the south end and was being rescued by a lifeguard.”

The lifeguard quickly identified him as the missing person, the rescue was effective, and the scuba diver was brought to shore.

The scuba diver was described as a male, approximately 50 years old, and luckily, he didn’t need any medical attention.

“Over the weekend, we had 192 rescues. We provided medical aid to 92 people, 5,700 public contacts and made 3,980 prevents, preventative actions,” Cpt Bond explained.

“It exceeds the normal amount based for on for this time of year based on the fact that there was good weather forecasted long term for the weekend, so people were gearing up for the weekend because they knew the weather would be nice,” Cpt Bond said. “In addition to the large surf that we got that was 3 to 5 feet on Saturday, [we also had] 6 and 8 feet sets on Sunday consistently throughout the day.”

When nature calls, don’t answer…several unsavory species spotted too close to home

There seems to be a guest spot on Wild Kingdom airing in the 5000 block of Avenida Del Sol recently with critters running amok, causing chaos, all within two days.

On Saturday, June 9 at 11:32 a.m., a woman called LBPD to report an “unknown animal in her bedroom,” notifying officers that she was scared. She described the intruder as having a long tail and questioned whether it could be a lizard or a snake.

The worried woman was advised to close her door and wait for an Animal Services officer to help quell her woes.

Earlier in the week on Wednesday, June 6 at 6:27 p.m., also in the 5000 block of Avenida Del Sol, a woman called LBPD to report and unwanted dinner guest. A coyote had a meal a la skunk in her backyard and kept leftovers for later. She asked Animal Services to assist in removing the skunk remains from her backyard. She must have thought the meal really stunk, most likely giving it bad reviews.

Oh dear, a possible “Bambi” scenario occurred at the 23000 block of Via Campo Verde on Wednesday, June 6 at 10:47 a.m. A person called to report that a mother deer allegedly left behind her baby deer, abandoning it. 

Police Files Fawn

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of

A baby fawn is abandoned by her mother in a Bambi gone bad scenario, the actual fawn is not pictured, rather a stand in model for representational purposes

However, this testimony would probably not hold up in court because it was hearsay, the person reporting the crime did not actually witness the mama deer in the act.

On a positive note, the caring caller asked LBPD if it was ok for the baby deer to stay on the property with the gate ajar.

Beware snakes are here, there, and everywhere in Laguna Beach these days.

On Wednesday, June 6 at 5:39 p.m., LBPD was contacted about a rattlesnake on a residents’ front porch at the 1200 block of La Mirada Street. There were no reported knocks or doorbell sounds heard, so that rules out a ding-dong-ditch motive or a dashed delivery debacle detected.

On Saturday, June 9 at 10:53 a.m., at the 1900 block of Temple Hills Drive, LBPD received a call reporting that a snake was in a residents’ garage. According to the police report, the raucous rattler got its justice and was “in custody.” Handcuffs?

Police Files

Rollover Range Rover, careening drunk driver hits Audi, flipping on impact 

On Wednesday, June 6 at 9:30 p.m., LBPD police and fire personnel responded to South Coast Highway at Mountain Street for the report of a rollover vehicle collision. Emergency personnel arrived and found that a Range Rover, which had been traveling southbound on Coast Highway, had struck an unoccupied parked Audi.

“The impact from the collision caused the Range Rover to flip onto its side. The driver of the Range Rover was extracted from the car,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “She was not injured but was visibly intoxicated.”

The inebriated 51-year-old woman, a Laguna Beach resident, was charged with her first DUI. Because of the collision both southbound lanes of South Coast Highway were closed, and traffic was diverted to Glenneyre Street for one hour, according to LBPD. Bail was set at $2,500.

Police Files Crash

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Courtesy of LBPD Facebook Page

Local intoxicated 51-year-old woman is arrested for DUI when she rolls over her Range Rover in a collision with a parked Audi

Egg on his face, adult male arrested on outstanding warrant after allegedly throwing eggs at cars

On Monday, June 4 at 1:54 a.m. at the 200 Block of Oak Street, a local man was busted by local LBPD after reports that he and his buddies, all adult males, were throwing eggs at vehicles. What sounds to be reminiscent of a coming of age movie by filmmaker John Hughes, his story was not so “Pretty in Pink.” 

Rather Cory Robert Richins, 31, of Laguna Beach, was more the lead in the male version of “Orange is the New Black” as two of his co-stars went free, for egging and pegging cars on Anita Street and Glenneyre Street, while Richins was arrested on an outstanding OC warrant. Bail was set at $5,000.

Fire Files

LBFD quickly extinguishes several brush fires near Laguna Canyon Road Wednesday

Less than five days after the Aliso Canyon fire started, LBFD sprang to action and quickly put out several brush fires near Laguna Canyon Road Wednesday.

LBFD, LBPD, and OCFA all received the call at 5 p.m. on Wednesday of multiple spot fires burning in heavy brush. 

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said, “We received reports of a vegetation fire, burning in heavy brush, on NB Laguna Canyon Road between the 73 and 133. There was no immediate threat to the city.”

Police Files New Fires

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Courtesy of LBPD Facebook Page

Several fires ignited near NB Laguna Canyon Road Wednesday

OCFA reported a 1-acre blaze with multiple spot fires, and that no structures were being threatened. At 5:28 p.m., they reported three separate fires in the area.

“Laguna Fire had two helicopters and ground crews doing an excellent job at slowing down the fire with a dozer working to cut a containment line around heavy brush,” according to OCFA PIO.

By 5:50 p.m. forward progress had been stopped for all three fires and fixed wing aircraft was cancelled and the fires were put out by 6:15 p.m. 

“Fire crews remained on scene for hotspots and assessment of the area,” Sgt Cota said.

Laguna Canyon Road was closed between Lake Forest Drive and El Toro Road while firefighters battled the blaze. Both directions of Laguna Canyon Road were open by 8:15 p.m.

According to OCFA, “It is not yet clear what started the fires.” OCFA investigators remained on scene, researching the cause.

Friday is the goal for 100% containment of Aliso Fire

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota had good news about the Aliso Canyon Fire being close to completely contained on Thursday.

 “The containment remains at 85 percent and is expected to be at 90 percent by 6 p.m. today,” Sgt Cota said. “There are currently 91 firefighters assigned to the area to finish the job till they reach 100 percent containment. The goal is to be finished by Friday afternoon.”

On Twitter Thursday, OCFA PIO reported the recent incorporation of new remote cameras to assist in discovering potential fires in rural areas that could have a lengthy response time. “The three allows us to pinpoint an area and send help.” The cameras captured a time-lapsed video before at the site of the Aliso Canyon fires before it started.

Police Files Mop Up Efforts

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Courtesy of OCFA PIO Twitter Page

OCFA mop up efforts for the Aliso Canyon fire to mitigate hot spots

Fire investigators continue to investigate the burn and the surrounding area to determine the cause. The public is being asked to assist if they have any information to help identify the cause of the fire. 

“Anyone with information or any video or photographs taken at the early stages of the fire are asked to contact 1-800-222-TIPS (8477),” urges OCFA PIO.

Fire Files

Fire burns 175 acres of wilderness, injures 3 firefighters, and prompts evacuations…but thanks to our fire and emergency personnel, we are all safe

LBFD took quick actions to safeguard Laguna Beach residents after a fire broke out in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, right in our backyard, on Saturday afternoon.

“We were notified, and our crews went to the Top of the World and began to set up in case the fire extended to the homes,” Laguna Beach Fire Chief Mike Garcia said. “They were joined by other companies due to the threat, and we had approximately 15 Engine companies in our neighborhood.

Fire Files City of Aliso Viejo

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Courtesy of City of Aliso Viejo

Aliso Fire raging on Saturday late afternoon

By 3:56 p.m. on Saturday, Laguna Beach Fire Department ordered immediate evacuation of approximately 1,500 Laguna Beach residents in the Top of the World and Old Top of the World areas due to fire danger. 

“With our Fire Department’s deep knowledge of the drainage patterns, canyon topography and wind behaviors in the fire area we quickly identified homes that could be in the path of fire and took immediate action to get those residents out,” said Chief Garcia.

The City set up a temporary shelter for displaced residents at the Susi Q Community Center where some residents stayed overnight Saturday. Pets were allowed as well. 

 “The City sincerely wants to thank all of the residents who evacuated their homes for their cooperation during the Aliso Fire emergency,” said Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig. “As one of the residents evacuated this weekend, I know it is not easy to pick up and leave your home at a moment’s notice, not knowing when you’ll be able to return. We want to thank everyone who evacuated for their diligence and patience.”

According to Thanh Nguyen, public information officer of the Orange County Incident Management Team, the fire, which originated in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, spread quickly from one acre to 175 acres due to winds, hillside pitch and drought conditions.

Fire Files Scott Burn

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

The Aliso Fire burned 175 acres of wilderness

“The weather pattern that we’ve had for the past several days – in the morning it’s fairly calm and in the afternoons it picks up – that’s what got this fire going. That in combination with the topography. You have steep hillsides. If the fire starts at the bottom, the heat moves upward, so that when the fire actually gets to it (the base of the hillside), it takes off really easily. And then, the drought situation doesn’t help with the fuel moisture so that vegetation lights up pretty fast.”

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

“At this time our investigators are still out at the scene and we don’t have a conclusive cause (of the fire) yet. We’re asking for the public’s assistance if they were in or around the area at the time the fire started, to contact the Tip Line at 1.800.222.TIPS (8477),” said Nguyen.

Thankfully, no structures were lost, although the fire did come extremely close to Soka University, said Nguyen. “With firefighters on the scene fairly quickly, they were able to stop the forward progression.”

Fire Files Scott Plane

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Two air tankers circled the fire with retardant all day Saturday, followed by helicopters attacking the middle with water drops

However, three firefighters suffered injuries. “One was taken off the line, but did not go to the hospital. The second one did go to the hospital to be evaluated – their injuries were minor. The third one on Monday was out on the line – I don’t know the extent of that person’s injury either, however, he was airlifted to the hospital via OCFA helicopter,” said Nguyen.

As of Monday, according to Chief Garcia, there are currently 525 firefighters still assigned to the fire, which on Tuesday, June 5 at 7:45 a.m., was 75 percent contained after burning 175 acres. The Orange County Fire Authority and Orange County Parks, 85 engines, two helicopters, four bulldozers and nine hand crews have been working to contain the fire, rotating shifts in 24-hour increments.

“The response to the Aliso Fire was a well-coordinated partnership between the Laguna Beach Fire Department, Orange County Fire Authority, CalFire, many assisting local municipalities and all Laguna Beach City Departments,” Garcia said. “I want to especially thank the Laguna Beach Police Department for helping evacuate people to safety, and also thank our affected residents who remained calm and refused to panic.”

Fire Files Mike Jarnot OCFA

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Courtesy of Mike Jarnot OCFA

OCFA was integral in fighting the Aliso Woods Canyon Fire

It is unknown at this time how much wildlife was lost.

Hallie Jones, Executive Director of Laguna Canyon Foundation, said, “Fire is a natural part of the wilderness ecosystems, and while the immediate habitat impacts are severe, the park will recover.

“Here at Laguna Canyon Foundation, we’re so grateful to our park rangers and first responders for protecting the homes and people.”

She said the best thing the community can do is to stay away from the park, which will be closed until further notice while the fire crews extinguish any last hot spots or smoldering brush.

“Let the rangers do their job and let the land heal. Footprints and bike tracks will just cause more damage,” Jones said.

Once the park opens, LCF volunteers will work with OC Parks to keep people out of the burned area and educate visitors.

Longtime Laguna TOW resident Sande Werthe evacuated “after the search lady came running by” and she “received a phone call from the police department to evacuate”, she said. It was her 80th birthday on Sunday.

After she was evacuated, Werthe went to Laguna Presbyterian Church and listened as to the choir as they rehearsed for an upcoming concert. Pastor Jerry Tankersley and his wife were evacuated too since they live nearby.

Fire Files City of Laguna Beach

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Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

The aftermath of the fire, looking out from Top of the World

 “The Susi Q really did a wonderful job of organizing. I was so impressed. I finally got back to my place at 2:30 p.m. and went to a friend’s house who made a Mexican dinner for my birthday. After that I finally got to put my feet up and relax,” Werthe said. 

She was also in the same neighborhood during the fire in ‘93 for the fire and was forced to evacuate.

“My house was in escrow and my mom lived alone nearby. We were concerned we’d lose both houses. I kept calling my answering machine and every time it picked up I thought everything was still fine,” Werthe said. “I did the same thing this time and sang happy birthday to myself. It’s a birthday I will never forget.” 

She, like other community members, lauded the hard working personnel behind the evacuations.

“I can’t stress enough how wonderful the City was and the great job the people at the Susi Q did checking people in and making them feel comfortable, Werthe said. “It’s one way to meet the neighbors, but definitely not the best way.”

Denis Cambruzzi, a Laguna Beach resident since the ‘80s was here during the 1993 fire on Mountain View Drive. 

“We were fortunate to keep ours,” he said referring to his and his wife’s home on Mountain View Drive,” Cambruzzi said.

There was no comparison between the fear he felt this time around and during the ’93 fire, he said.

“That one was scary, during fire season and propelled by the dry hot winds but, began much further away. The winds blew smoke in our direction all day and by evening the fire followed,” Cambruzzi said.

This one began very close and only got scary for about an hour, he said.

“And then these pilots put it down. Hitting it from all sides with fire retardant and water from planes and helicopters. They flew into and thankfully out of that canyon countless times. Brown smoke followed by the victorious white plumes,” Cambruzzi said. “Truly amazing. The firefighters on the ground were also braving the inferno hand to hand with shovels, axes, and chain saws.”

Jean Keyes from deck at Bluebird Canyon

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Jean Keyes

The path of one airplane, as seen from Jean Keyes’ home in Bluebird Canyon

Sawdust artist September McGee was walking in the park when she learned that they were being evacuated on Saturday.

“I was looking at the birds in the trees and the sky looked clear,” she said. 

It didn’t look as clear on the other side.

“I live half way down Bern Street and they were ready for us to roll. Then they went back up the hill and backed off. So luckily, we didn’t have to leave. But it’s important to give kudos for everyone involved, they did a very good job,” McGee said. “The evacuations were very organized.”

“I knew that with the birds still singing in the trees that it’s going to be fine. It’s a good sign. After all, they know more than we do,” Mc Gee added.

See more photos from the scene by staff photographer Scott Brashier

Click on photos for larger images 

Police Files

Former LBHS coach, Brian Bishop, arrested on meth and gun charges

On Friday, May 25, former LBHS assistant football coach Brian Jay Bishop, 35, was arrested by the Costa Mesa Police Department on drug and gun charges in Costa Mesa. 

Three men were arrested, two on suspicion of offenses including possession of heroin and methamphetamine, during two traffic stops in Costa Mesa, police said. Bishop was among those taken into custody that day during two separate traffic stops.

Authorities said the arrests occurred Friday after they monitored white supremacist gang members in the city. 

Police did not confirm whether the three are believed to be connected to the gang and did not disclose the gang’s name.

Police Files Brian Bishop

Courtesy of Costa Mesa Police Department

Former LBHS coach Brian Bishop was arrested on several charges including possession of meth for sale and possession of a concealed/loaded gun not registered to him

At approximately 1:30 p.m. that day, Gang Investigators, detectives, and patrol officers conducted a traffic stop along the 2400 block of Newport Boulevard. 

According to authorities, Bishop was arrested for possession of methamphetamine for sale, possession of a concealed/loaded firearm while possessing narcotics, and possession of a firearm when not the registered owner. 

Bishop has since posted bail and was released. 

“He was hired in August 2016 as a walk-on assistant football coach,” Leisa Winston, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources & Public Communications, Laguna Beach Unified School District said.

Bishop served as LBHS Football’s Offensive Coordinator in 2016, John Shanahan’s first year as head coach. He also served as the freshman/sophomore team head football coach and a track coach.

“Mr. Bishop is no longer employed by LBUSD. His last day of work was Tuesday, May 22,” Winston said. “He indicated to staff he would be moving out of the area.”

Self-driving Tesla crashes, decimating LBPD SUV

On Tuesday, May 29 at 11:07 a.m., officers responded to a report of a traffic collision involving a police vehicle at 20652 Laguna Canyon Road, near Laguna Dog Park. The officer was on a call at the time near where his police vehicle was parked.

“Officers began investigating a two-vehicle traffic collision involving a 2015 Tesla S and an unoccupied Laguna Beach PD unit,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “We learned from the driver’s statements that he had the Tesla in ‘driver assist’ mode when the vehicle veered off the roadway and crashed into the police vehicle.”

According to Sgt Cota, the driver, a man in his 60s from Laguna Niguel, reported that he was looking at the hillside when the vehicle veered off the roadway and crashed into the police vehicle. 

Police Files Tesla

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy of LBPD

A man crashed into a parked LBPD SUV while operating his Tesla in ‘driver assist’ mode on Tuesday; luckily, the officer had stepped out of the vehicle before the accident occurred

“He sustained minor injuries and refused transportation to the hospital,” Sgt Cota said. “The police vehicle sustained major damage and the Tesla sustained moderate damage.” The driver, not the Tesla, was placed at fault for the traffic collision, but not cited.   

The LBPD SUV appears to be totaled. LBPD put out a traffic alert warning about the accident warning that there would be delays on outbound Laguna Canyon Road for about an hour.

Car break-ins are rising in Laguna, keep doors locked

LBPD recently issued a press release warning residents that car break-ins are on the rise. On January 27, a victim reported that her vehicle had been burglarized and her purse containing multiple credit cards was stolen. 

LBPD Detectives began their investigation and learned that the victim’s credit cards were used in Laguna Beach and several other cities throughout Orange County. The next day the suspects also attempted to use the victim’s personal information to obtain a credit account at a San Bernardino furniture store.

The lengthy investigation led detectives to San Bernardino County where they identified three suspects in connection with the crime. 

“On May 24, detectives conducted a surveillance operation and subsequently arrested Highland residents Robert James Bird and Amber Lynn Holt for burglary, conspiracy, forgery, and theft of an access card,” Sgt Cota said. “Detectives learned the third suspect, Vincent Razvan Oajdea, was already in custody in Riverside County for an unrelated theft charge.”

Police Files Bird and Holt

Photos courtesy of LBPD

Robert James Bird     Amber Lyn Holt

LBPD Captain Jeff Calvert reminds the community that, “As we approach summer, we ask Laguna Beach residents and visitors to assist us by properly securing their vehicles at all times and to immediately report suspicious activity to the Laguna Beach Police Department.” 

For further information, please contact Sgt Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna Lifeguards enjoy annual Special Olympics Torch Run yesterday

LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna Lifeguards laced up their running shoes for the annual Special Olympics Torch Run yesterday morning at 7:35 a.m. to share their support for Special Olympics athletes on the 5.4-mile run.

Laguna’s trio of public service teams escorted the “Flame of Hope” from the Laguna Beach Police Department to the intersection of Coast Highway and Newport Coast Drive and handed the torch off to The California Highway Patrol.

Police Files Torch Run 1

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna Lifeguards enjoying the Special Olympics Torch Run

Over the years, the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Tip-A-Cop have been some of the largest fundraising and community relation events for the Special Olympics.

“The Laguna Beach Police Department has had the honor and privilege to participate with the Special Olympics, interact with the Laguna Beach Community, and raise awareness for the Special Olympics programs and athletes though these activities,” said Sgt Cota.

Police Files Torch Run 2

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBPD gets ready to rally for the 5.4-mile Special Olympics run yesterday

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