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Authorities in California are asking the public for help after a man went inside a gas station on Saturday and purchased a gallon of gas before spilling it near a pump and lighting it on fire.

The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department said on Twitter the incident happened at the Unocal 76 gas station on Watt Avenue in Sacramento on Saturday morning.

Surveillance images released by fire officials show the man entering the store wearing sunglasses before returning to the pump outside.

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Marichal Brown, who was working at the cash register at the time, told FOX40 he looked up and saw a "huge fire."

“He spilled gasoline on the floor on purpose, then set the nozzle up and lit a match to it and set it all on fire, as a man just pulled up to pump gas," he said.

A man bought a gallon of gas before spilling it near a pump and lighting it on fire at a gas station in Sacramento, Calif. on Saturday, according to officials.

A man bought a gallon of gas before spilling it near a pump and lighting it on fire at a gas station in Sacramento, Calif. on Saturday, according to officials. (Metro Fire of Sacramento)

Brown told FOX40 the gas station was nearly full at the time and he knew customers were in danger.

“I was afraid that it would activate the pump to explode. Once we got everyone to safety, I ran back in and grabbed the fire extinguisher,” he said.

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Brown was able to put the fire out before fire crews on the scene. The man fled the gas station on foot into the surrounding neighborhood.

Metro Fire Capt. Chris Vestal said his crews are now working to find the man before he puts anyone else at risk.

“We don’t know what the danger is because we don’t know who he is, we don’t know his motive, and we don’t know what his intentions were,” Vestal told FOX40. “We really need help in identifying him and locating him to make sure there’s no danger to the community and to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

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Anyone who is able to identify the man in the photos released by fire officials is urged to contact the Metro Fire arson tip line at 916-859-3775.

Source: Fox News National

A motorist in California was killed Saturday after his vehicle went over a cliff at a state park and plummeted hundreds of feet, officials said.

The California Highway Patrol said in a Facebook post that the incident happened on Ridgecrest Boulevard in Mount Tamalpais State Park, located northwest of San Francisco.

A hiker reported that a four-door sedan had driven off the side of the road and crashed about 500 feet below.

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Emergency crews responded to the area and had to establish a long-line rescue system due to the difficult terrain.

Marin County fire battalion chief Bret McTigue told KTVU the heavily-damaged sedan overturned and the engine was thrown from the vehicle. Authorities found the driver, the sole occupant, dead inside.

"The area where the collision occurred is a busy hiking area, as well as a very popular route for cyclists to ride, especially on nice weekends," CHP Marin said. "Out of an abundance of caution a CHP helicopter responded to the scene and assisted with a search to ensure there were no other individuals that were struck by the errant vehicle."

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Another helicopter from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office was used to bring the body of the driver back to the roadway.

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Officials said the driver’s name is not being released as the Marin County Coroner still needs to identify and make notifications to next of kin. The cause of the crash remains under investigation, and any toxicology will not be known for some time, according to CHP.

Source: Fox News National

A child was in critical condition and several others were injured Saturday after a massive pileup snarled traffic on a California highway for hours, authorities said.

The southbound 5 Freeway near Gorman became a mangled mess around 3 p.m. when two separate crashes occurred shortly after each other that led to a chain reaction. Authorities initially said up to 50 vehicles were involved in the pileup with as many as 100 vehicles trapped in between the two crash locations.

The southbound lanes were shut down shortly after.

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Videos of the scene showed at least one car in flames, sending black smoke billowing into the sky. Several vehicles were severely damaged and others flipped over.

"Suddenly, I just saw a car stop for no reason and then we all got into an accident," Raul Macias, who was involved in the pileup, told KABC.

A child was taken to the hospital in critical condition, KTLA reported. Another 11 people were hospitalized with moderate to minor injuries.

At least 22 people were also injured but declined to be taken to the hospital.

A horse in a trailer died and two other horses were rescued from the scene.

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Officials reopened 5 Freeway just before 7 p.m. Saturday. The exact cause of the crash was not released, although thick fog and poor visibility may have contributed to the incident.

Source: Fox News National

A shooting in San Francisco’s Fillmore neighborhood on Saturday night has left one person dead and at least three more injured, one critically, police say.

Authorities arrived on the scene at the Fillmore Heritage Center on the city’s popular Eddy Street around 8:40 p.m., and found four victims suffering from gunshot wounds. One person was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other three were rushed to the hospital, with one suffering life-threatening injuries, ABC 7 reports.

Video taken from the scene indicated that the suspected shooter fled in a black Cadillac, and was possibly still armed. Footage showed ambulances and police cars blocking off the intersection of Eddy Street and Fillmore Street.

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The Fillmore Heritage Center was opened as a community restoration project at the city’s iconic jazz club Yoshi’s, and hosts various events on a near-daily basis. On the morning of the shooting, an event took place titled "400 Years of African American History Children’s Story Telling Hour."

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An investigation is ongoing as this story develops, and anyone with information is encouraged to call the San Francisco Police Department’s 24-hour tip line at (415) 575-4444, or text a tip to TIP411. Individuals wanting to remain anonymous have the opportunity to do so.

Source: Fox News National

California Governor Gavin Newsom plans to declare a statewide emergency Friday in the wake of the state’s worst fire season in history, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The executive order would speed up recovery efforts, including expediting forest thinning programs. It would also sidestep some environmental regulations and has garnered criticism from some conservation groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, The Sacramento Bee said.

“We share Governor Newsom’s desire for urgent action on wildfires, but for decades now, harmful logging-based strategies have failed to keep Californians safe,” the director for the center, Shaye Wolf, said in a statement.

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The Camp Fire, which burned 153,336 acres in Northern California last November, killing 85 people and destroying 18,804 structures, was California’s deadliest wildfire ever, according to Cal Fire.

Newsom said “extreme peril” to the life and property necessitates the emergency declaration. “The increasing wildfire risks we face as a state mean we simply can’t wait until a fire starts in order to start deploying emergency resources. California needs sustained focus and immediate action in order to better protect our communities,” he added in a statement.

The order will prioritize 467 acres of forest thinning as well as nearly 7,000 acres of fuel reduction projects in the middle part of the state with a total of 94,000 acres of forestry work across the state, according to a Cal Fire report cited by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Newsom is expected to sign the executive order Friday in Lake County, near the location of 2018’s Mendocino Complex Fire that burned 48,920 acres and killed one firefighter, according to Cal Fire.

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The only other statewide emergencies since the year 2000 were declared by former Governor Jerry Brown in 2014 and 2015, both related to the drought.

Source: Fox News National

A mother was left reeling after two of her children – including her nine-year-old daughter – were reportedly held for 30 hours by Customs and Border Patrol agents, despite being passport-carrying U.S. citizens, after trying to cross into California from Mexico to attend school.

Thelma Galaxia said she and a friend were each driving their two children from their homes in Tijuana across the border to the children’s schools in San Ysidro on Monday. When they reached the Port of Entry, traffic was backed up significantly and Galaxia was worried about the children getting to school on time, so she told 9-year-old Julia and 14-year-old Oscar to walk through the Port of Entry on foot and she would order them an Uber to get to class

When the children attempted to walk across the border, however, Julia and Oscar were stopped by CBP and subsequently detained and separated from each other for 32 hours.

CBP has defended their actions in a statement to Fox News, saying their intent was to "perform due diligence in confirming her identity and citizenship."

Julia gave the officers her U.S. passport card, but said that they told her she didn’t look like the girl in the photo, and accused her of being her cousin Melanie. She also said they accused her brother of sex and human trafficking, and said he would face charges if he didn’t sign a document saying that Julia was her cousin Melanie.

“I was scared," Julia told NBC 7. "I was sad because I didn’t have my mom or my brother. I was completely by myself."

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CBP could not clarify why it took more than a day to identify Julia as a U.S. citizen but said that the girl gave "inconsistent information during her inspection."

They added that Oscar was identified as a citizen later in the day on Monday and released, but it wasn’t until about 6:30 p.m. that Julia was allowed to reunite with her family.

At least 25,000 people reportedly cross the border legally between Tijuana and San Ysidro on foot every day

At least 25,000 people reportedly cross the border legally between Tijuana and San Ysidro on foot every day (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

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Local news was present as Thelma Galaxia was reunited with her children. In the hours since her children were detained, she had reportedly called the Mexican consulate in an attempt to get them back.

According to a 2017 NPR article, at least 25,000 people cross the border between Tijuana and San Ysidro on foot every day. Many of those are students, born in the United States but living in Mexico for various reasons. As U.S. citizens, they have a right to a U.S. education, although their families could technically be fined for not attending a school in their district.

San Ysidro reportedly has the highest rate of homelessness in the country, as the price of living has risen to a staggering rate, which has driven many families across the border to find affordable housing. In some instances, a family member or parent will be deported, so children will accompany them back to Mexico but make the exhausting trip back to the U.S. daily for school.

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CBP has maintained that they prioritize the "safety of the minors we encounter" and that it is critical to "positively confirm the identity of a child traveling without a parent or legal guardian."

Source: Fox News National

A California driving instructor whom authorities said was a registered sex offender was arrested last week for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old driving student during multiple lessons, authorities said Thursday.

Tom Lam, 56, sexually assaulted the female driving student earlier this month in Rowland Heights, about 25 miles east of Los Angeles. The girl’s parents had reportedly paid Lam for six driving lessons and the first four were without incident, the Los Angeles Times reported. Lam allegedly assaulted the teen during the last two lessons.

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The victim reported Lam to authorities March 12 and an investigation was opened, the press release said. Amid the investigation, authorities discovered that Lam was arrested in late 2014 for “annoying or molesting a minor” — also while acting as a driving instructor, authorities said in a news release.

Lam was arrested March 15 in his Montclair home and taken into custody at the Walnut-Diamond Bar sheriff’s station, authorities said. He was released two days later on $140,000 bond, they added, with his next court appearance is slated for April 8 in Pomona.

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Authorities said they believe Lam may have assaulted other victims. Anyone with information on the matter is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Special Victims Bureau at 877-710-5273.

Source: Fox News National

A California man who claimed two men allegedly robbed "priceless items" from his home seemingly caught it all on surveillance footage.

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Kevin Valone, who lives in Elk Grove, said that he left his house around 9 a.m. on Tuesday, and when he returned an hour later, he said his front door was unlocked.

"I thought that was kind of strange and I walked back here to the bedroom," Valone told Fox affiliate KTXL. "As I walked in I noticed a huge hole in my sliding glass window right here and glass all over the floor."

Valone said he checked his security camera, and noticed a man, wearing a black t-shirt and a red True Religion brand sweatshirt, walking up his front sidewalk to his front door just before 10 a.m.

Roughly 10 minutes later, he said his surveillance footage captured two men leaving his home in Elk Grove, a city roughly 16 miles southeast of Sacramento.

Valone said one of the men appeared to be holding a handgun as he exited his house carrying what was reportedly his rifle in a case over his shoulder.

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A .40-caliber Sig Sauer handgun and an AR-15 were taken from his home, he told the news outlet.

"Violated, definitely, more angry than violated," is how Valone described how he felt following the alleged theft. "I’m more angry than anything else. I’d like to see justice."

Source: Fox News National

Vice President Mike Pence recently sent a letter to the leader of the California State Assembly in an attempt to ease the tensions between the White House and the Democrat-controlled statehouse in Sacramento.

The sarcastic reply from Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon was probably not what he expected in return.

In late February, Pence penned a letter to Rendon offering an olive branch to the state that has been at the center of President Trump’s policies on everything from immigration to the environment, telling Rendon that the current White House administration values “the opportunity to work with you to build on our successes in the year ahead.”

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“We recognize that when California succeeds, America succeeds,” the vice president said in his letter.

Rendon’s reply to Pence – which was dated almost three weeks later – was not as diplomatic.

While Rendon does thank Pence for reaching out, he also says the Trump administration and its policies “have already done quite a bit to help” the state’s Democrat-controlled Assembly.

“Thanks to your policies, voters in California added five Democrats to the Assembly in the last election,” Rendon wrote. “In addition, one Republican has decided to jump to the Democratic Party, citing the President’s extreme positions. We now have a three-quarters majority — plus one.”

Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, who represents parts of the San Diego metropolitan area, jumped from the GOP to the Democrats in January and gave the party 61 out of 80 seats in the Assembly.

In his letter, Rendon goes on to question how Pence thinks the Trump administration is respecting California’s rights by waging “constant legal battles” and leveling threats against the state. Rendon also cites a laundry list of moves by the White House that buck initiatives in California – including revoking the state’s ability to set stricter car emission standards, moving to repeal the Affordable Care Act and threatening to hold back federal grant funding for the state’s proposed high-speed rail project.

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“Although you probably know this, I would add that your Administration has been largely unsuccessful in its court attempts to take away our rights as a state,” Rendon wrote. He specifically noted the Trump administration’s courtroom losses when trying to overturn California’s sanctuary city laws.

The state itself has sued the Trump administration 47 times in the past two years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Source: Fox News Politics

A California woman was arrested after authorities discovered her 96-year-old father and multiple pets living inside a home in conditions described as "not fit for human living" with up to 700 rats inside, officials said Tuesday.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Catherine Ann Vandermaesen, 65, was arrested last Thursday on suspicion of felony elder abuse and misdemeanor animal abuse after authorities visited the home in Ojai, located northwest of Los Angeles.

Sheriff’s deputies had originally paid a visit to the home Wednesday for a “check-the-wellbeing” call initiated by Ventura County Adult Protective Services after Vandermaesen was suspected of not properly caring for her 74-year old sister.

This undated booking photo provided by the Ventura County Sheriff's Office shows Catherine Ann Vandermaesen, of Ojai, Calif.

This undated booking photo provided by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office shows Catherine Ann Vandermaesen, of Ojai, Calif. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office)

The sheriff’s office said when deputies made contact with Vandermaesen and her sister, they did not want the deputies to enter the home and "insisted all occupants at the location were fine." Deputies also asked to see the sisters’ 96-year-old father, but both daughters would only agree to bring the man out in a wheelchair after refusing to allow deputies inside.

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When officers came back to the home the next day, they discovered "excessive animal fecal and urine matter" throughout the entire home, in addition to floors and countertops piled with trash. Eight dogs, two rabbits, a cat, a parrot and 55 pet rats ended up being removed from the home.

“The house of horror. It was dirty, there was paper on the floor, dog crap all over. It was uninhabitable and very unsanitary.” 

— Neighbor Karin Rudio

"According to Ventura County Animal Control and Humane Society of Ventura County – Ojai, they estimated another 200 to 700 wild rats were still loose and residing within the two bedrooms dwelling, walls, garage and garbage located throughout the residence," the sheriff’s office said.

Photos released by the sheriff’s office show the filthy conditions inside.

Eight dogs, two rabbits, a cat, a parrot and 55 pet rats were removed from the home.

Eight dogs, two rabbits, a cat, a parrot and 55 pet rats were removed from the home. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office)

“The house of horror,” neighbor Karin Rudio told KEYT-TV. “It was dirty, there was paper on the floor, dog crap all over. It was uninhabitable and very unsanitary.”

"Excessive animal fecal and urine matter" throughout the entire home, in addition to floors and countertops piled with trash.

"Excessive animal fecal and urine matter" throughout the entire home, in addition to floors and countertops piled with trash. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office)

Rudio said that rats from the home ate all her flowers, and said hundreds of rats have come through her back yard and ruined her belongings.

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“Rats! Pet rats, I don’t know," she said. "For some reason she is fascinated with rats."

Ventura County Sheriff’s Detective Joseph Preciado told the television station that Vandermaesen was in charge of the care for her father and all the animals in the residence. It also wasn’t the first incident with Vandermaesen, with prior reports of these same issues, the station reported.

Deputies from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office discovered the scene on Thursday.

Deputies from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office discovered the scene on Thursday. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Office)

"That is why we are able to arrest her for the elder abuse charge and also for the animal neglect charge,” Preciado said.

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Vandermaesen’s elderly father and her 74-year-old sister, who deputies described as a "possible victim," were taken by ambulance to a hospital. Authorities did not disclose their conditions.

Officials said that county authorities assumed custody of the 96-year-old, and helped the sister get temporary housing services. The city of Ojai later "yellow" tagged the home, declaring it "unlivable and a danger to the occupants and animals" due to the conditions inside.

Source: Fox News National


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