Suspicious Fire Leads to Temporary Canyon Closure

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Fire Department arson investigators are looking to determine the cause of a 6:15 p.m. fire that erupted near the Dog Park and led to the evacuation of the city’s 45-person overnight homeless shelter and the closure of Laguna Canyon Road for several hours Friday, Nov. 18, according to police.

The neighborhoods to the west and east bordering the hillside fire, on Raquel and Sun Valley Roads, respectively, were not evacuated, though a sleepover for children at Anneliese’s Willowbrook campus, less than a mile to the east, was broken up, Sgt. Tim Kleiser said. By 8 p.m., all 33 students had been retrieved by parents, who were allowed through the roadblock, the police log says. “Officers responded there to make sure everyone was okay,” Kleiser said.

Fifty-five people inside the shelter for dinner initially were evacuated to the parking lot entrance and then waited out the fire for two hours in the adjacent Dog Park, said Dawn Price, executive director of the Friendship Shelter, which runs the shelter.

Staff offsite arranged for two churches to provide temporary emergency shelter, but fortunately that proved unnecessary, Price said.

Volunteers serving dinner when the fire was spotted were able to depart in their own cars and staff permitted to retrieve blankets and food from the shelter building, she said. “I’m told one of the residents brought a guitar and the group was singing Christmas carols to pass the time and keep spirits up!” Price said.

After learning of the fire, staff at Anneliese school voluntarily initiated calls to parents, suggesting they pick up their children, said Erin Sparkuhl, the school’s human resources director.

Police later asked staff to clear the entire campus, which includes an aviary and other resident animals, Sparkuhl said. A team arrived within 30 minutes to get bird cages and a trailer ready, but that ultimately proved unnecessary, she said. Authorities informed them the fire was no longer a threat, she said. “We are so thankful that the fire was put out quickly, and that our campus and the rest of the canyon residents and businesses were safe!”

Police reopened outbound lanes by 10:45 p.m., the log says.


Car Thief Eludes Police

The driver of a stolen car, which was disabled by spike strips deployed by police near the Dog Park in Laguna Canyon, fled on foot into the Sun Valley neighborhood about 3:20 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, police said.

The suspect was not found after a two-hour search of the area, which included assistance from Irvine police and sheriff’s deputies, Sgt. Tim Kleiser said.

Residents in the area were called and urged to remain inside. Kleiser couldn’t say how many people received the warning.

Monday, Nov. 14

Theft. 200 block of Cozumel 12:50 p.m. A washer and dryer were taken from an unlocked storage unit.

Burglary. 21700 block of Ocean Vista Dr. 1 p.m. About 40 pieces of jewelry and two silver trays cumulatively valued at up to $25,000 were reported missing from a locked storage closet last opened in September.

Fraud. 600 block of N. Coast hwy. 2:50 p.m. Someone changed the address on a bank account without the owner’s permission.

Vandalism. 300 block of Glenneyre St. 4:17 p.m. A vehicle was intentionally scratched.

Occupied vehicle. 16-04620. Wesley Allen Beebower, 27, of Mission Viejo, was arrested for suspicion of selling and possessing a controlled substance. During a a search of the driver and car, an officer found 13.84 grams of heroin, 2.65 grams of methamphetamine and a digital scale. Bail was set at $30,000.

Tuesday, Nov. 15

Pedestrian stop. Beach St. 10:40 a.m. Devin Antonio Spagnola, 21, Celina, Tex., was arrested for suspicion of shoplifting after a shopkeeper spotted the theft on video and provided a description to police.

Warrant arrest. 500 block of Forest Ave. 3:31 p.m. Jeffrey Bruce Bradway, 51, of Los Angeles, turned himself in for three drunk in public warrant arrests.

Child abuse. Police are investigating assaults that initially appear to have taken place outside of town.

Wednesday, Nov. 16

Traffic stop. Laguna Canyon Rd. 7:17 a.m. A 25-year-old Aliso Viejo man was arrested for a warrant.

Grand theft. 900 block of S. Coast Hwy. 11:34 a.m. An Almerick surfboard valued at $1,100 was taken.

Fraud. PD. 11:51 p.m. A bank account was hacked and fraudulent checks written on the account.

Rape. 20600 block of Laguna Canyon Rd. 3 p.m. A woman reported seeing a man she alleges sexually assaulted her two weeks ago, a crime she had not previously reported.

Thursday, Nov. 17

Battery. 31900 block of Coast Hwy. 7:46 a.m. Donna Jean Halstead, 46, of Huntington Beach, was arrested for suspicion of battery. Another woman claimed Halstead slapped her face and unsuccessfully tried to hit her with a water bottle.

Battery. 20600 block of Laguna Canyon Rd. 9 a.m. Police are unable to locate a bicyclist, who a bus driver claimed had fled after a fight.

Suspicious circumstances. 1200 block of Anacapa Way. 11 a.m. A house cleaner discovered broken window.

Bar check. 300 Cliff Dr. 6:26 p.m. The foot patrol discovered contaminated bottles.

Friday, Nov. 18

Vehicle burglaries. 31800 block of Eighth Ave, 31900 Sunset Ave. 9 a.m. One vehicle was rummaged through, another’s soft top cut and the owner of a third reported $1,600 in losses.

Grand theft. 300 block of San Tropez Ct. 12:49 p.m. Contents valued at $1,000 was taken from a motorcycle after 3:45 a.m.

Saturday, Nov. 19

Disturbance. 100 block of N. Coast Hwy. 12:52 a.m. Chris James Ritch, 32, of Anaheim, was arrested for suspicion of robbery after he allegedly took a soda and a blanket and pushed a store clerk who tried to stop him.

Abandoned vehicle. 600 block of S. Coast Hwy. 5:58 a.m. Five hours after abandoning a black Jeep on the sand near the Sleepy Hollow beach access, the driver returned and told officers he took a wrong turn by following GPS directions. Police are unsure if alcohol was also a factor due to the delay in speaking with the driver.

Fraud. 100 block of McKnight Dr. 1:39 p.m. Owner of a debit card reports a $700 loss from a duplicate card.

Stolen vehicle. Ledroit St. 1:40 p.m. A ’99 Toyota stolen in Torrance was located unoccupied.

Traffic stop. Glenneyre St. 11 p.m. Four juveniles were detained.

Sunday, Nov. 20

Traffic stop. Sunset Terrace. 12:54 a.m. Evan Allen Yoder, 21, of San Clemente was arrested for suspicion of DUI and held for $10,000 due to a previous offense.

Traffic stop. Moss St. 2 a.m. A 24-year-old Laguna Niguel man was cited for DUI.











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