En route to work last Friday, Deputy Fire Chief Jeff LaTendresse spotted and reported a 7:30 a.m. blaze, but also pounded on the door to personally evacuate the two occupants, who were still sleeping.
“He man-handled us out of the house,” said homeowner Gene Gratz, who with his wife, Judy Regan, was permitted to put on some street clothes and grab their pet cats before fleeing. They found residents in neighboring homes also in the street.
Within minutes firefighters doused the blaze that ultimately caused $100,000 in damage to the Thalia Street home. Fire was confined to a lower level storage area and stopped from engulfing upper floors, said Division Chief Dan Stefano, who described the fire as probably accidental.
Gratz returned to the house by midday feeling incredibly lucky. He figures a store room humidifier that runs intermittently may have malfunctioned.
Though the home was equipped with working smoke alarms, at least one smoke alarm in the lower level was not functional, Stefano said in a statement.
Monday, March 7
Traffic stop. 4:56 p.m. Laguna Canyon Road. Two Pomona men were arrested for outstanding warrants after a witness reported seeing their vehicle weaving.
Traffic stop. 6 p.m. City limits. Kimberly Charlotte Park, 56, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for suspicion of DUI and held for $15,000 bail due to two prior arrests.
Vehicle burglary. 9:51 p.m. 300 block of Lookout Drive. A window was smashed and a wallet stolen.
Tuesday, March 8
Fraud. 9:51 a.m. 300 block of Forest Avenue. Someone drew a fraudulent check for $580 on a business account.
Grand theft. 3:41 p.m. 2300 block of Hillview Drive. For the second time in recent weeks, thieves made off with a $1,300 computer delivered and left at the house by a shipper.
Traffic stop. 8:17 p.m. Upland Road. Long Beach resident Ronald James Frize, 28, was arrested for two outstanding warrants.
Wednesday, March 9
Pursuit. 5:29 p.m. Montage Resort Drive. One juvenile was detained and later released to his parents but others successfully eluded pursuing police and sheriff’s deputies in Capistrano. The driver of a vehicle, which was later learned to be stolen, refused to yield and instead led police on a high-speed chase through Laguna Canyon Road and onto freeways, abandoning the car after it was stopped on a street by sheriff’s deputies.
Traffic stop. 11:34 p.m. Second Avenue. A Laguna Niguel woman, 34, was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Thursday, May 10
Sex battery. 1:42 p.m. 300 block of St. Ann’s Drive. A homeless woman reported the incident after being turned away from a shelter in the canyon.
Traffic collision. 5:11 p.m. Glenneyre and Legion Streets. Kim Nicole Songster, 43, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for suspicion of DUI after rear-ending a motorcyclist. Bail was set at $100,000. One rider complained of shoulder sprain and pain in the head, back and neck.
Traffic stop. 5:18 p.m. Glenneyre Street. Robert Victor Balacek, 72, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for suspicion of DUI and held for $15,000 bail due to recent prior convictions.
Friday, March 11
Traffic collision. 12:31 a.m. 10th Avenue. A 20-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for suspicion of DUI after rolling his vehicle, which briefly blocked both southbound lanes of Coast Highway.
Pedestrian stop. 5:26 p.m. Cajon. A Newport Beach woman was arrested for suspicion of possessing a controlled substance and an outstanding DUI warrant.
Traffic stop. 10:23 p.m. John Mitchell Noel, 47, of Corona del Mar, was arrested for suspicion of DUI as well as an outstanding grand theft warrant. Bail was set at $20,000.
Saturday, March 12
Traffic stop. 2:35 a.m. Montage Resort Drive. A 19-year-old Aliso Viejo resident was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Traffic collision. 9:36 a.m. El Toro and Canyon Hills Drive. A 52-year-old Irvine bicyclist suffered a broken shoulder and scrapes after striking a rock and falling to the pavement.
Traffic stop 11:58 p.m Moss Street. A 44-year-old Laguna Niguel man was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Sunday, March 13
Traffic stop. 12:50 a.m. 200 Laguna Avenue. A 20-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Traffic stop. 1:23 a.m. Montage Resort. A 29-year-old Mission Viejo man was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail, while his passenger was held for an outstanding warrant on a similar charge and held for $15,000 bail.
Traffic stop. 1:29 a.m. 30600 block of Coast Highway. A 25-year-old Mission Viejo man was cited for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Traffic stop 3:27 a.m. 200 Ocean Avenue. A 30-year-old Laguna Hills man was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Vandalism. 10:02 a.m. 500 block of Temple Hills Drive. A concrete piece was thrown through a driver’s window, causing $2,000 in damage.
Traffic stop. 2:05 p.m. Aliso Circle. Clinton Wells, 29, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for falsifying registration tags. He told officers he couldn’t afford to pay the fees. Bail was set at $20,000.
Traffic stop. 4:43 p.m. 300 block of Bluebird Canyon Drive. A 53-year-old Dana Point man was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Sexual battery. 10:38 p.m. 200 block of Cypress Drive. Robert Louis Phillips, 48, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for suspicion of sexual battery and making threats after a woman reported being battered on a date.