Category Archives: Fire

Suspects Arrested In Downtown San Mateo Garbage Can Fires

SAN MATEO (CBS SF) — Two San Mateo men have been arrested in connection with suspicious garbage bin fires set early Thursday in downtown San Mateo, authorities said Friday.

Carlos Cristerna, 21, and Wilbert Ramirez, 20, were taken into custody on suspicion of arson and conspiracy to commit a crime, according to San Mateo Police Officer Michael Haobsh.

The pair is suspected of setting garbage bins ablaze in an alley next to a building in the first block of Second Avenue, Haobsh said.

The fires were reported about 3:25 a.m. in the alley, which is near South El Camino Real.

The building was damaged when fire melted a window and set off the building’s sprinkler system, Haobsh said.

After the fires were extinguished, officers increased patrols downtown, canvassed the area and shared images of the suspects on social media. Within a few hours, tips began pouring in, police said.

A combination of surveillance video, quick action by investigators and the numerous anonymous tips led police to the suspects, Haobsh said.

According to police, Cristerna was wearing the exact same clothing seen in surveillance video when he was arrested at home about 8:15 p.m. Thursday. Evidence of the crime was found inside his home, Haobsh said.

Additional information led officers to the home of Wilbert Ramirez and he was arrested at 12:19 a.m. Friday. Evidence was also found at his home, according to police.

Police didn’t release a motive behind the fires. The suspects were booked at San Mateo County Jail.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

5-Year-Old Girl Kaitlynn Jeffries Killed In Englewood House Fire

CHICAGO (CBS) — A 5-year-old girl was killed Friday morning, in a house fire in the Englewood neighborhood.

Chicago Fire Department Battalion Chief Thomas Carbonneau said crews received the first call about the fire at 7 a.m. at a two-flat at 58th and May, and firefighters arrived within four minutes, and immediately began a search of the building.

A 5-year-old girl was found dead on a bunk bed in a first-floor bedroom. Relatives identified her as Kaitlynn Jeffries.

“She was deceased, and she was beyond medical help,” Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

Relatives said Kaitlynn was a kindergartener at Nicholson STEM Academy.

Carbonneau said finding out a child died in the fire was “Very difficult for all our men.”

“It never gets easier. The more you see, the harder it is sometimes,” he said. “We’ll go back, and talk, and go over what went on here, and make sure everyone’s okay to go back to work, and I’m sure they are. The fire department’s a tough team.”

No working smoke detectors were found on the first floor, although one working smoke detector was found on the second floor.

A man who lives in the building said he tried to go back in to get the girl out, but firefighters would not let him go inside.

“With the volume of fire we had, for us to let somebody else in there is endangering them. So the person told us where they thought the child was, and we went there right away,” Carbonneau said. “We can’t let people in the buildings.”

No one else was injured in the fire. Flames spread to a neighboring home before the fire was extinguished.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Arson Suspects Sought In Fire That Threatened Downtown San Mateo Building

SAN MATEO (CBS SF) – Police in San Mateo are asking for help identifying two people seen in an alley where burning garbage cans threatened a building early Thursday morning.

San Mateo arson suspects (San Mateo Police)

Police and firefighters were sent at 3:23 a.m. to the first block of Second Avenue, near South El Camino Real, and determined that a group of garbage cans were burning next to a building.

Officer Michael Haobsh said the building sustained damage when the fire melted a window a bit and set off the building’s sprinkler system.

The fires were deemed suspicious and an arson investigation was begun.

Police said some businesses are providing surveillance video of the area and anyone else who has video they can provide is asked to get in touch with police right away.

Anyone with additional information is asked to get in touch with Detective Lau at (6500 522-7617 or at llau@cityofsanmateo.org. Anonymous tips can be sent to http://tinyurl.com/SMPDTips or by calling (650) 522-7676.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Ghost Ship Trial Defense Attorney Asks For 6-Month Delay

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The lawyer for Ghost Ship warehouse creative director Max Harris filed a motion this week asking to delay the trial of Harris and warehouse master tenant Derick Almena by six months because of newly discovered evidence.

Almena, 48, and Harris, 29, are charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the fire during a music party that killed 36 people at the warehouse at 1309 31st Ave. on Dec. 2, 2016.

Last Sept. 7, Alameda County Superior Court Judge James Cramer scheduled the long-awaited trial of Almena and Harris to begin on April 2.

Ghost Ship Fire defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris (CBS)

At a recent hearing, Judge Trina Thompson, who was later appointed to handle the case, indicated that she expects the trial to be lengthy, as she talked to the attorneys in the case about their availability the last week of August.

But Harris’ attorney Max Briggs wrote in a motion he filed on Tuesday that he wants to delay the trial for 180 days so he has time to investigate what he said are “recently discovered facts which considerably impact defense strategy.”

Briggs said, “The first issue cannot be discussed publicly or shared in detail with the public or prosecution as it would impede Mr. Harris’ defense, involve improper disclosure of defense work product and could interfere with my investigation if specifics were reported in the media.”

Although the attorneys in the case were told to keep their calendars clear for the trial of Almena and Harris, Briggs said another reason he wants the trial to be delayed is that he’s scheduled to begin a trial on what he said is a “life case” in San Mateo County next Monday, a misdemeanor trial in San Joaquin County on April 19 and a death penalty trial in Fresno County on April 29.

Briggs said he’s also scheduled to begin the retrial of another life case in Mendocino County on April 29.

“Without a 180-day continuance, Mr. Harris will be deprived of reasonably effective assistance of counsel and will not receive his Sixth Amendment right to counsel,” he wrote.

On Friday, Thompson will hold a hearing on Briggs’ motion to delay the trial as well as a defense motion to dismiss the charges against Almena and Harris on the grounds that potentially exonerating evidence was destroyed, lost or altered under the watch of prosecutors.

Thompson previously said she expected the hearing on that issue alone would take a full day.

Almena’s lawyer Tony Serra filed a motion last week asking that prosecutors be prohibited from making references to negative information about Almena, such as his use of drugs, including methamphetamines, that his children were temporarily placed with Alameda County Child Protective Services and that he has a misdemeanor conviction for receiving stolen property.

Serra said he also wants prosecutors barred from mentioning that Almena “pretended, as a joke, that he was Hitler and Harris was his Jewish slave.”

In addition, Serra wrote that he wants to bar “any reference to the warehouse or Ghost Ship that calls it a fire trap or synonym or any opinion or conclusion regarding the unsafety of the premises.”

Serra said introducing such information would “create substantial danger of undue prejudice, of confusing the issues, or of misleading the jury.”

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.