Fire at Boyle Heights Church Called ‘Suspicious’ – Community Outraged

January 25, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

A “suspicious” fire damaged a Catholic church in Boyle Heights that also serves as a center for community activism this morning, and an investigation is underway to find the cause.

Flames were reported at 2:05 a.m. at Resurrection Church, located at 3345 E. Opal St. in Boyle Heights. No one was injured, according to fire officials.

The multi-agency House of Worship Task Force has been called in to investigate. Two religious statues outside Resurrection were vandalized. One was toppled over. On the other, the face of Jesus was splattered with bright green paint.

A dumpster outside Resurrection church is filled with charred and water-soaked remnants of fire Thursday. (EGP photo by Gloria Alvarez)

The task force, with members from several law enforcement agencies, has been investigating a rash of suspicious church fires, including a Jan. 13 fire in Pasadena that damaged the Church of the Angels, a 129-year-old Episcopalian church at 1100 N. Avenue 64. That non-injury blaze, which broke out at 2:20 a.m., is also considered suspicious but to date has not been classified as a hate crime, according to Lisa Dederian of the Pasadena Fire Department.

The fire at Resurrection was primarily centered on the first floor of the church, and the flames were kept from the main sanctuary, said Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott. It took 62 firefighters 26 minutes to douse the fire, according to Margaret Stewart with the fire department. Firefighters were conducting extensive salvage operations and water removal during the early morning hours, Stewart said. Due to the vandalism, the fire has been deemed suspicious, Scott said.

This newspaper has often referred to Resurrection Church, which includes an elementary school and headquarters for the local Neighborhood Watch — a group that does much more than keep an eye out for crime — as “ground zero” in the battle against environmental injustice and other social justice issues plaguing the working class community of Boyle Heights.

Most recently, church members led the fight to shutter the polluting Exide plant in Vernon and to force the cleanup of thousands of homes, schools and parks contaminated with lead from the factory.

That history caused an immediate outpouring of concern from the community and elected officials.

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) said he and his family regularly attends the church and he heard the “heartbreaking news” about the “fire and vandalism” when he awoke this morning.

“I pledge to do everything in my power to assist law enforcement in hunting down the perpetrators of this crime,” said Santiago in a statement released earlier today.

“…my wife, Celina, and I will keep the church and its parishioners in our thoughts and prayers moving forward,” he said, adding that he does not “understand this sort of senseless vandalism.”

Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar (CD-14) said he met with the church’s pastor, Monsignor John Moretta, early this morning. Huizar said he was fully briefed by LAPD and LAFD inspectors.

“What I can share for now is the LAPD and LAFD investigators assured me that they will do everything in their power to get to the bottom of what caused the fire,” said Huizar, explaining he could not be more specific because there’s an ongoing investigation.

“I assured Monsignor Moretta that we will do everything in our power to help them rebuild and come back stronger than ever,” Huizar said in a press statement.

According to Moretta, the fire damaged the Church’s vestibule, but firefighters were able to keep it from spreading. The fire was in an area known as the “candle-room,” where worshippers light candles as part of their prayers for special intentions, such as the recovery of someone who is ill or in thanks for something good that has happened.

Candles were burning that night, but, according to fire officials, the candles are specially designed to burn slowly and safely. “They can burn overnight, that’s per fire code, so we’re looking for other potential causes,” said Capt. Scott.

The situation, though devastating, could have been much worse.

“We were lucky, some of our neighbors were out at that hour and saw the fire and called it in,” Moretta told EGP Thursday.

Billy Gordon told CBS2 News that he saw smoke and flames coming from the church and called 911.

“My first thought was that I hope there’s nobody in there and then the second thought was the statue that’s knocked over there, should we try and rescue it, you know it was knocked down on its face and then maybe we shouldn’t move this thing. He said, no don’t touch it, it’s a crime scene.”

A section of Opal Street was cordoned off for hours as fire fighters mopped up the scene and the Worship Task Force began its investigation.

“I’ve been here [at Resurrection] for 34 years and have never seen anything like this,” Moretta responded when asked if he had any idea who might have started the fire.

He said the task force was still inside, going through the scene: “We need to let them finish their work first.”

The task force was combing through the debris, going inch by inch through charred and wood soaked remains searching for evidence of what caused the early morning blaze, said fire officials.

It will take time to repair the damage from the fire, smoke and water, but the church will continue to hold services, either outdoors or the in parish hall, Moretta said.

“We had weddings and baptisms scheduled for this weekend,” he said. “We’ve been working all day on making alternate arrangements,” he said, telling EGP he’d been up since 2:00 a.m.

The church is all closed up. From the outside, the damage seems minimal: a narrow section of windows blackened by smoke; the front doors charred around the edges; a dumpster filled with water damaged remains from the interior.

It’s much worse than it appears, Santiago said after touring some of the damage.

“It’s devastating to see … the damage from the fire and the water,” he told EGP. “It’s gruesome and cruel,” he said, again promising to do anything he can to help the church.

While every fire takes its toll, the fire at Resurrection Church is especially troublesome to the people who seek not only spiritual guidance there, but also the many social services offered to parishioners and non-parishioners alike.

Parishioner Sylvia Manzano says the fire has shaken her.

“It’s very, very awful, I feel nervous, I feel angry,” Manzano told CBS 2 reporter Kandiss Crone.

“Who would do something like this,” asked Ramon in Spanish, not wanting to give his last name because he’s in the country without permission. “This church, father, they do go things, they don’t hurt anyone,” he said, shaking his head in disgust and disbelief. “This is a disgrace. You have to be mentally ill or full of hate to attack a church, to throw paint on Jesus,” Ramon said.

 

Fire Damages Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights

January 25, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

A “suspicious” fire damaged a Catholic church in Boyle Heights that also serves as a center for community activism this morning, and an investigation is underway to find the cause.

Flames were reported at 2:05 a.m. at Resurrection Church, located at 3345 E. Opal St. in Boyle Heights. No one was injured, according to fire officials.

The multi-agency House of Worship Task Force has been sent to investigate.

The fire was primarily centered on the first floor of the church, and the flames were kept from the main sanctuary, said Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott. He said there were signs of vandalism at the scene, and the cause of the fire “appears to be suspicious.”

The fire was doused by 62 firefighters in 26 minutes, according to Margaret Stewart of the fire department. Firefighters were conducting extensive salvage operations and water removal, Stewart said.

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) said he and his family regularly attend the church and he heard the “heartbreaking news” about the “fire and vandalism” when he awoke this morning.

“I pledge to do everything in my power to assist law enforcement in hunting down the perpetrators of this crime,” said Santiago in a statement released earlier today.

“…my wife, Celina, and I will keep the church and its parishioners in our thoughts and prayers moving forward,” he said, adding that he does not “understand this sort of senseless vandalism.”

Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar said he met with the church’s pastor, Monsignor John Moretta, early this morning. He also said he has been briefed by LAPD and LAFD inspectors.

“What I can share for now is the LAPD and LAFD investigators assured me that they will do everything in their power to get to the bottom of what caused the fire,” said Huizar, explaining he could not be more specific because there’s an ongoing investigation.

“I assured Monsignor Moretta that we will do everything in our power to help them rebuild and come back stronger than ever,” Huizar said in a press statement.

“Monsignor Moretta and Resurrection Church have led so many battles to help Boyle Heights. We stand ready to return the favor,” the councilman said.

While every fire, especially to a church, can take a toll, the fire at Resurrection Church is especially troublesome to the people who seek not only spiritual guidance there, but also the many social services offered to parishioners and non-parishioners alike.

“Resurrection Church is a symbol of the heart of Boyle Heights,” said Santiago.

“It is the community’s meeting center; the lifeblood of Boyle Heights in the food, services, education, and shelter it provides to our residents,” he said.

“Our community will rebuild and be stronger than ever.”

Vacant Building In Eagle Rock Goes Up In Flames

January 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles firefighters had to force their way into a property in Eagle Rock Sunday where a vacant commercial building was on fire.

Responding to a call about 3:30 p.m. of a fire at 4537 N. Eagle Rock Blvd., firefighters encountered a vacant commercial building engulfed in heavy smoke, according to a statement on the LAFD Facebook page.

It took 98 Los Angeles firefighters just over an hour on Sunday to fully extinguish a fire at a vacant commercial building in Eagle Rock. (Los Angeles Fire Department/Creative Commons/Flickr.com )

The 75-foot by 250-foot structure, built in 1968, was surrounded by security fencing and required forcible entry to gain full access to the building, according to the LAFD.

Firefighters were forced to pull back at one point when the roof partially collapsed, but were later able to get the upper hand after taking safety precautions. A second building on the site was not damaged in the fire, the department said.

It took just over an hour for the 98 firefighters deployed to the scene to fully extinguish the blaze. No injuries were reported.

 

Spectacular Blaze Destroys ‘Victorian’ Hotel in Boyle Heights

January 10, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

A fire that broke out inside a large 1890’s Victorian home near Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, collapsing most of the building and spreading to a nearby apartment building Sunday night before it was finally extinguished, may have been housing transients, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The fire inside the two-story Victorian home at 1516 E. Pleasant Ave. was reported at 7:57 p.m., fire department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said.

When firefighters arrived, they found the two-story, wooden-sided structure completely engulfed, according to the department, which said additional resources were called and the status raised to that of Greater Alarm.

The flames partially collapsed the home on its southwest side, Stewart said, and into an adjacent apartment building.

Firefighters on Sunday responding to the call found the two-story Victorian style home completely engulfed in flames.
(Photo by Tim Ernst for LAFD Photo/Creative Commons.)

The blaze then spread to the attic of a next door apartment building and firefighters had to take down part of the apartment building’s ceiling to knockdown those flames.

LAFD dispatched 101 firefighters to the scene and needed about an hour to extinguish the flames, Stewart said.

The LAFD credited the quick action of firefighters in pulling ceiling and getting handlines in place for preventing the fire from running the building. Four units on the second floor had to be evacuated, but no injuries were reported. Arson investigators were sent to the scene to determine what caused the fire, which remains under investigation, Stewart said.

The Red Cross was at the scene to arrange housing for those displaced from the apartment building, she said.

The 3,443 square-foot Victorian is reported to be the site of a previous burn and possibly home to transients, LAFD said in a news release. Once a single-family home, it was later converted to a 9-room hotel, according to the Boyle Heights Beat and a 2006 listing on the real estate website LoopNet. For a time it housed local musicians and was dubbed the Mariachi Hotel, according to the Boyle Heights Beat.

Given the size of the building and the continuing collapse as it settled, firefighters remained on scene to address flare ups through the night, said the LAFD.

Information from City News Service used in this report.

 

Edificio Vacante en Eagle Rock Ardió en Llamas

January 10, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Los bomberos de Los Ángeles tuvieron que abrirse paso a la fuerza en una propiedad en Eagle Rock el domingo donde se incendió un edificio comercial vacío.

Respondiendo a una llamada sobre un incendio alrededor a las 3:30 de la tarde en el bloque 4537 del norte del boulevard Eagle Rock, los bomberos encontraron un edificio comercial vacío envuelto en humo, según un comunicado en la página de Facebook de LAFD.

El domingo, 98 bomberos de Los Ángeles tardaron más de una hora en apagar por complete un incendio en un edificio comercial desocupada en Eagle Rock.

La estructura de 75 pies por 250 pies, construida en 1968, estaba rodeada de vallas de seguridad y requirió entrada forzada para obtener acceso completo al edificio, según el LAFD.

Los bomberos se vieron obligados a retroceder en un punto cuando el techo se derrumbó parcialmente, pero luego pudieron tomar la delantera luego de tomar precauciones de seguridad. Un segundo edificio en el sitio no fue dañado en el incendio, dijo el departamento.

Tomó algo más de una hora para que los 98 bomberos desplegados en la escena extinguieran completamente el incendio. No se informaron heridos.

Gas Explosion Rocks Hollywood Eatery

December 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A gas explosion rocked a restaurant in the heart of the Hollywood tourist zone Wednesday evening, sending glass from blown out windows onto the sidewalk and street.

One person was being evaluated for possible injuries at the scene of the blast, which was reported at 7:31 p.m. in the 1700 block of Highland Avenue near Hollywood Boulevard, according to Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The floor above the restaurant was evacuated as a precaution and residents on higher floors were told to shelter in place, Stewart said.

Hazardous materials and urban search and rescue crews were dispatched to the scene, Stewart said.

The gas was turned off and readings were taken as crews searched all residential floors to ensure no one remained in a hazardous environment, Stewart said.

Thousands In Wildfire Path Forced to Evacuate

December 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Thousands of people remained under mandatory evacuation orders Wednesday as firefighters tried to get control of multiple stubborn, wind-driven fires in Sylmar, Santa Clarita and Bel Air.

The largest of the fires, which raged through the hills above Sylmar and threatened thousands of homes was holding at just more than 11,000 acres burned late Wednesday afternoon, but crews were bracing for violent gusts expected to return overnight.

The Creek Fire broke out early Tuesday morning in the city of Sylmar. More than 1,100 firefighters and other personnel were deployed against the fire, which fire officials said Wednesday afternoon was 5 percent contained.

The blaze broke out at 3:42 a.m. Tuesday in the area of Gold Creek and Little Tujunga roads in the Kagel Canyon area. More than 1,100 firefighters and other personnel were deployed against the fire, which fire officials said Wednesday afternoon was 5 percent contained.

El Fuego de Creek empezó el martes por la mañana en la ciudad de Sylmar. Más de 1,100 bomberos y otro personal fueron desplegados contra el fuego, que, según las autoridades de bomberos, el miércoles por la tarde estaba 5 por ciento contenido.

Thousands of people in the path of the Creek Fire that started Tuesday in Sylmar have been forced to flee their homes. More than 14,000 had burned as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Los Angeles Fire Dept, which said the wildfire was just 5 percent contained. (LAFD /Harry Garvin)

Three firefighters were injured Tuesday, and were hospitalized in stable condition.

At least 30 homes were destroyed, about 20 of them in the Little Tujunga, Kagel Canyon and Lopez Canyon areas. The other 10 homes were within Los Angeles city limits, according to Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The fire also forced a mass evacuation of large animals, primarily horses but also others such as alpacas.

Many of the animals were being housed at Pierce College and the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, which were at capacity Wednesday afternoon and not accepting additional animals.

Sylmar resident Virginia Padilla, whose family owns a ranch in Sylmar, told reporters the fire killed at least 30 of the ranch’s horses. Padilla said she and her family were able to get out of her home just in time but were not able to take their horses with them as they had to evacuate immediately when they were awakened Tuesday morning.

Evacuation orders first issued Tuesday were affecting about 110,000 households, according to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said evacuated residents would not be allowed to return home for another night.

“We realize what an inconvenience this is and how traumatic this is to so many people, but we’ve watched fires in Northern California, we’ve seen through experience it’s much better to err on the side of safety,” Garcetti said at an afternoon news briefing.

An estimated 2,500 structures were threatened by the Creek Fire at one point, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which was fighting the blaze in a unified command with the Los Angeles city and county fire departments.

Los Angeles Fire Department attacks Creek Fire from land and air. (LAFD Photo | Harry Garvin )

Los Angeles Fire Department attacks Creek Fire from land and air. (LAFD Photo | Harry Garvin )

Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas warned that the battle was likely to continue until at least Friday.

While there was a lull in the winds Wednesday, allowing crews to work on containment lines around the various fires, a “significant” wind event was expected Wednesday night and into Thursday, with hurricane-force winds possible, Terrazas said.

The LAFD’s “brush burning index” that rates the fire danger was at 296 — “the highest number I’ve ever seen in my career,” according to Terrazas.

He said the usual threshold for extreme fire conditions is 165.

“Tonight may be the worst night of all,” Terrazas said.

Fire fighting resources were further strained when a fast-moving brush fire broke out just before dawn Wednesday, racing across 475 acres in the Sepulveda Pass and Bel Air, destroying four homes and damaging 11 others, forcing mandatory evacuations and prompting a morning rush-hour closure
of the San Diego (405) Freeway.

The Skirball Fire was reported at 4:52 a.m. on the east side of the freeway near Mulholland Drive, said Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department. By 3 p.m. the fire was estimated to have burned 475 acres and was 5 percent contained, though no injuries were reported, according to Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief Charles Butler.

The fire was kept to the east side of the freeway and with winds easing, the forward movement of the fire was halted, but firefighters were in a desperate race to contain the blaze before expected evening gusts, Butler said.

“When the winds come up they’re going to come out of the northeast and they will want to push that fire across the 405 Freeway,” Butler said.

About 700 homes and an apartment building were evacuated. One elementary school was also evacuated, Butler said.

Aircraft crews, engine companies and hand crews were at work battling the fire, with more than 300 firefighters deployed, he said.

Six fixed-wing aircraft and a number of helicopters were deployed to the scene, Garcetti said at a morning news briefing.

Other agencies assisting including the U.S. Forest Service, Los Angeles County Fire Department and Cal Fire.

The Getty Center and the nearby Skirball Center, both on the west side of the freeway, and did not appear to be threatened.

All Los Angeles Unified School District schools in the San Fernando Valley and some on the west side of Los Angeles — a total of 265 district schools and affiliated charter schools — will be closed on Thursday and Friday, district officials said. A full list of closed schools was available at www.lausd.net.

All Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District campuses will also remain closed Thursday. Both were closed for the day and were to remain closed on Thursday. Santa Monica College and all schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu school district were closed.

Citywide, about 600 Los Angeles police officers were assigned to coordinate security, evacualtion orders and various “firefighting events,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.

Residents were urged to heed evacuation orders and to prepare well in advance of commands to leave home.

“Pack a go bag,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

He suggested residents take photo IDs, medications, food and water — enough for a couple of days — and important documents like birth certificates, passports and licenses.

He said 70 mph winds were forecast for Wednesday night.

“Please take this serious,” he said. “Pack a bag, be ready to go, have your cell phone charged and please, heed the warning when we ask you to leave an area.”

Gov. Brown Declares State of Emergency In SoCal Wildfires

December 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County due to the wildfires burning in the area.

The declaration comes amid Santa Ana wind conditions believed to be the worst in a decade, and as a brush fire rages out of the Kagel Canyon area above Sylmar Tuesday. The fire raced across 11,000 acres, destroying about 30 homes and forcing more than 150,000 people from their homes.

High winds hindered efforts to get the blaze under control.

The blaze, dubbed the Creek Fire, was reported at 3:42 a.m. in the area of Gold Creek and Little Tujunga roads, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The fire consumed 4,000 acres by 8:30 a.m. and blanketed 11,000 acres with zero containment by early afternoon.

Fire officials said late Tuesday they would not have an updated acreage figure until Wednesday morning. But as of Tuesday night, at least 30 homes had been destroyed, about 20 of them in the Little Tujunga, Kagel Canyon and Lopez Canyon areas.

Throughout the day there  was a frantic rush to get hundreds of horses out of the way of the fire.

About 800 firefighters were attacking the fire on the ground, but strong, unpredictable winds was making it hard to gain any ground against the blaze.

The mayor urged residents to heed orders to evacuate — saying, “Do not wait. Leave your home” — and added that people should be prepared for at least one night away from home.

“Do not expect to back tonight,” Garcetti said.

An estimated 800 firefighters were on the lines battling the blaze, which was being pushed by sustained winds of 25 mph, along with gusts up to 45mph during the day.

Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas warned that the firefight is likely to continue until at least Friday.

“This has only just begun,” he said.

The Los Angeles Police Department, meanwhile, was on a citywide tactical alert, which allows commanders maximum flexibility in deploying resources. One firefighter was hospitalized after a bulldozer rolled over in the Sunland- Tujunga area, but the injury was not considered to be life-threatening. A second firefighter was also injured, with Terrazas telling ABC7 the firefighter was burned when a propane tank exploded.

There were no other immediate reports of injuries.

“We have no reports of any civilian fatalities or injuries, which speaks to the fact people are evacuating,” county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.

The Foothill (210) Freeway was closed in both directions between the Golden State (5) Freeway on the west and the Glendale (2) Freeway and wasn’t expected to be reopened until at least Wednesday morning. The 210 interchange with the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway was also closed.

As the fire expanded and jumped south of the 210 Freeway, so did the mandatory evacuation area. Evacuations were initially ordered in the area north of the 210 Freeway from Glenoaks Boulevard on the west to the border with La Crescenta on the east.

But by early afternoon, the eastern border of the evacuation area had been enlarged to the Haynes Canyon area. Also, an area south of the 210 Freeway
was ordered evacuated in the Shadow Hills area, in a roughly triangular area between Sunland Boulevard to the south, Wentworth Street to the north and Tuxford Street to the west, officials said.

Evacuation centers were opened at:
— Sylmar Recreation Center, 13109 Borden Ave.;
— Branford Recreation Center, 13306 Branford St., Arleta;
— Sun Valley Recreation Center, 13109 Borden Ave., Sylmar;
— Granada Hills Recreation Center, 16730 Chatsworth St.;
— Stonehurst Recreation Center, 9901 Dronfield Ave., Sun Valley;
— Valley Plaza Recreation Center, 12240 Archwood St., North Hollywood;
— North Hollywood Recreation Center, 11430 Chandler Blvd.;
— Chatsworth South Recreation Center, 22360 Devonshire St.;
— Van Nuys Sherman Oaks Recreation Center, 14201 Huston St., Sherman
Oaks; and
— Mason Recreation Center, 10500 Mason Ave., Chatsworth.

An evacuation center had been opened at the Sunland Senior Center at 8640 Fenwick St., but that center was closed as the fire closed in.

The fire also forced a mass evacuation of large animals, primarily horses but also others such as alpacas. Large-animal evacuation centers at Pierce College, the Los Angeles Equestrian Center and Hansen Dam Recreation Area quickly reached capacity. The Pomona Fairplex also opened its stables for evacuated animals.

For small animals, shelters were in place at West Valley Animal Shelter, 20655 Plummer St., and the East Valley Animal Shelter, 14409 Vanowen St.

The fire affected a number of schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, with students diverted to alternate campuses to keep them out of the fire’s path.

LAUSD officials said the following district campuses will be closed Wednesday:
— Mount Gleason Middle School;
— Verdugo Hills High School;
— Apperson Street Elementary School;
— Mountain View Elementary School;
— Pinewood Elementary;
— Pinewood Early Education Center;
— Stonehurst Elementary;
— Sunland Elementary;
— Brainard Elementary;
— Mount Lukens Continuation High School; and
— Plainview Academic Charter Academy.

Los Angeles Mission College’s Main Campus at 13356 Eldridge Ave. and the East Campus at 12890 Harding St., both in Sylmar, were closed for the day. However, the college’s Sunland-Tujunga Campus at 7224 Foothill Blvd. in Tujunga remained open. There was no immediate word if classes would resume Wednesday.

Osby said high winds hindered the deployment of firefighting fixed-wing aircraft, although more than a half-dozen water-dropping helicopters

Multiple People Injured In Bus Crash

November 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A passenger bus crashed into a wall on the San Bernardino (10) Freeway Monday in Boyle Heights, sending six people to a hospital.

The crash was reported about 5:30 p.m. in the eastbound high-occupancy vehicle lane near State Street, according to the California Highway Patrol.

None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

One person was evaluated at the scene but declined to be taken to a hospital, according to the LAFD’s Brian Humphrey.

Pautas de Drones Aprobadas por el LAFD, A Pesar de Objeciones de Grupos de Derechos Civiles

November 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Las pautas para un programa de drones del Departamento de Bomberos de Los Ángeles (LAFD) fueron aprobadas el martes por el Concejo Municipal debido a las objeciones de algunas organizaciones de derechos civiles preocupadas de que los dispositivos puedan ser utilizados para infringir las libertades individuales.

El voto de 11-0 formaliza las reglas para el uso de drones en el departamento de bomberos, o sistemas aéreos no tripulados. El Concejo Municipal ya había despejado el camino en julio para que el LAFD desarrollara el programa.

Según las pautas, los drones serían utilizados por el LAFD en “emergencias donde la complejidad o el alcance del incidente requiera una toma de decisiones crítica por parte del comandante del incidente y/o represente un riesgo significativo para la seguridad del bombero (que) podría requerir el uso de un departamento UAS”.

Las pautas también dicen que los drones se usarán, pero no se limitarán a, situaciones que involucren materiales peligrosos, rescates en espacios confinados, rescates de ángulos alto o bajos, rescates de agua rápidos o en movimiento, “o cualquier otro incidente extendido o prolongado”. Un proceso para solicitar un dron también se describe.

Las pautas señalan que de las casi 470,000 llamadas de servicio que el departamento responde anualmente, alrededor del 99 por ciento no necesitaría el uso de un dron.

Tanto el Departamento del Sheriff del condado de Los Ángeles (LASD) como el Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles (LAPD) también han estado persiguiendo drones por la objeción de los grupos de libertades civiles, incluyendo la Unión de Libertades Civiles de California del Sur, que están preocupados por la “amplificación de actividades” y se preocupan de que los dispositivos algún día se armaran con armas o se usará para realizar una vigilancia masiva.

Los comisionados de la Junta de Policía de Los Ángeles aprobaron recientemente las pautas de uso de drones, aunque la abrumadora mayoría de los comentarios públicos que recibió sobre el programa se oponía a ello.so

La Comisión de Supervisión Civil del alguacil recientemente voto 5-4 para pedir la base del programa de drones de LASD. Pero ese voto no es vinculante para el departamento y el sheriff Jim McDonnell dijo que la agencia continuará usando los dispositivos.

Las pautas de LAFD abordan los problemas de privacidad e indican que los dispositivos no se usarán para monitorear a los miembros del público ni para vigilar a los agentes del orden público.

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