News Update!!: Downtown Needles, CA: Resident speaks out about fire department’s response time.
Just days after several homes catch on fire in Downtown Needles, California on Saturday, June 13th, 2015, outrage is growing over the response time of the San Bernardino County Fire Department and the amount of abandon buildings around the community of Needles, California sitting there collecting dust, trash, and waiting to go up in flames.
Near by resident Richard Webster spoke to ZachNews Photojournalist Zachary A. Lopez about the fire he and his family seen the fire as they pulled back into town from a trip out to Las Vegas, Nevada.
Richard Webster tells ZachNews that he wented to try to help save his neighbor George Edward Hamil Sr.’s home, but a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Officer told him to leave and said to him that he wasn’t firefighter.
Richard Webster tells ZachNews that he knew the risk, but still wanted to save my neighbor’s house, and well the fire continued to burn next do, no fire department trucks arrive yet.
It was 15 minutes Richard Webster tells ZachNews between the time of arriving home, seeing the fire, trying to help save his neighbor’s home, and being told to leave, and when ZachNews asked if there was any fire department trucks here yet, Richard Webster tells ZachNews, “No”.
The fire jumped to his neighbor’s home as Richard Webster and other neighbors watched wondering where were the fire trucks at.
When ZachNews asked when did the first fire department truck arrived to the fire, Richard Webster tells ZachNews that “the first fire truck showed up 25 minutes”.
Richard Webster tells ZachNews that the first fire truck to show up was a small fire department truck (Picture Above) from San Bernardino County Fire Department, but he wasn’t sure if it was our local fire station fire truck.
Brian Barlow was another resident who arrived to the fire and began recording the fire as that small fire truck with 2 firefighters rolled out their fire hoses to begin to fight this fire which in the video has jumped to George Edward Hamil Sr.’s home.
Both Brian Barlow and other people watching the fire jump onto the other home all wondering where was the other fire engine and if the firefighters from the small fire truck be able to put out this fire before it spreads to other buildings on the street.
According to a press release by the San Bernardino County Fire Department, “In all, 16 firefighters from SBCoFire, Mojave Valley Fire and Ft. Mojave Fire were able to contain the fire within 50 minutes”.
ZachNews asked Richard Webster that were able to contain the fire within 50 minutes which he said no to that and said that the fire burned for hours; until 6:00pm PT.
Richard Webster tells ZachNews that why don’t we have another fire engine in our community in case of a situation like this happens, and his neighbor who lost his home and other neighbors are concern about what happened that day.
ZachNews asked about the boarded up buildings in the community including some of the buildings burned in this fire and how he felt about them still up awaiting for something to happen to them.
On I Street near the Jack In The Box parking lot, there is a boarded up home that has sat empty for years and on West Broadway next to the old and closed Valero Gas Station, an apartment building was also boarded up and has been like that for a few months.
Richard Webster tells ZachNews that they have transients coming off the trains and squatters coming into the community, and there’s a lot of empty buildings here; it’s a problem.
ZachNews asked Richard Webster if Code Enforcement is doing enough to address this issue of boarded and empty buildings in the community which Richard Webster said, “No there’s not.”
Richard Webster wants Code Enforcement to do a lot more about these boarded and empty buildings, and express what happen to him when Code Enforcement complaint about his yard because it had a lot of stuff when he just moved.
Richard Webster is upset about the time that it took for fire crews to arrive to put out this fire and wishes that he could have been able to save his neighbor’s house.
“We could have save this house – I mean – there was no reason why we couldn’t saved it, except for nobody was here.”
** You can watch the full video interview with Richard Webster at the follwoing ZachNews on YouTube website address: **
ZachNews asked Daniel Nelson of the San Bernardino County Fire Department on Saturday, June 13th, 2015 about the response time to the fire by the fire department which several residents and witnesses were telling ZachNews that took 20 to 30 minutes to respond to the fire.
Daniel Nelson of the San Bernardino County Fire Department didn’t want to speak about it on camera, but as the camera was off, Daniel Nelson tells ZachNews that this wasn’t true.
Also, according to Daniel Nelson of the San Bernardino County Fire Department, Engine 31 was on a call of a motorcycle accident which a woman needed to be flown out on westbound Interstate 40 near Goffs Road; around 33 miles away from Needles, California according to Google Earth or 36.5 miles from Needles, California according to Bing Map.
ZachNews is awaiting a response from San Bernardino County Fire Department Battalion Chief John Chamberlain regarding this fire and the response time of his fire department.
Richard Webster tells ZachNews that he wants something change so that this wouldn’t happen again, and when asked about what the City of Needles should do to address this issue on fire service in the community, Richard Webster tells ZachNews that the City of Needles needs to figure out how to get the funding and make the funding happen because, “you’re talking about lives.”
Richard Webster think that the idea of having a local fire service such as a volunteer fire department that would keep fire service local well the county fire department can service along the interstate would be, “the best then ever.”
As the burned debris of these homes sit as people drive by, the feelings of this resident is growing with more residents wanting something done to address this problem and hoping that this is address soon before another fire happens that may cost lives.
This issue regarding fire department response time and having fire service in the community in case of a fire in our community when fire crews are on a call on the interstate was raised during a Needles City Council Meeting on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 by members of the Needles City Council including Needles City Council Member Tom Darcy and Needles City Council Member Shawn Gudmundson.
** Video From ZachNews on YouTube: **
ZachNews has learned from Needles City Council Member Shawn Gudmundson that he will be posting a public statement Monday evening in regards to this incident and has spoke with George Edward Hamil Sr. who was one of the homes burn in the fire.
**** ZachNews will have that public statement posted on ZachNews as soon as it’s available. ****
** Regarding the Fire in Downtown Needles, California: **
According to Daniel Nelson of the San Bernardino County Fire Department, the cause of the fire is still under investigation; our investigators as well as San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Arson and Bombs were here for many hours trying to figure out what caused this fire, but was most likely arson.
At least 3 homes in Downtown Needles, California were lost in this fire including 2 homes along the 200 block of I Street and a home along the 1200 block of West Broadway which that was a 2 story which the second story was fully on fire.
One of the homes along I Street that was on fire was about to be moved into by George Edward Hamil Sr. who worked at the Westside Chevron Gas Station and did several Thanksgiving lunches as well as the first Christmas lunch at the Chester’s Chicken in Needles, California in December 2014 giving out a total of 214 plates of food to the community he loves.
Speaking about the home that was being moved into, Daniel Nelson of the San Bernardino County Fire Department tells ZachNews that the owner were in the process of purchasing the home and he did not live at the house at the time, but he did have some belongings that they started to move over to the home which the fire engulfed the home.
According to Daniel Nelson of the San Bernardino County Fire Department, the first call of this fire came in at 12:53pm PT on Saturday, June 13th, 2013, and the first unit to respond to the fire was Patrol 31 and a unit form Mohave Valley Fire Department.
ZachNews seen fire department crews from Mohave Valley Fire Department and Fort Mohave Fire Department here at the fire with San Bernardino County Fire Department.
According to Daniel Nelson of the San Bernardino County Fire Department, this was a second alarm fire so there may have been 10 fire department units here.
Streets were closed around the fire including J Street between Third Street to West Broadway, West Broadway between J Street to H Street, I Street between Front Street to Third Street, and Third Street between J Street to H Street.
ZachNews seen the San Bernandino County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, Department of Public Safety (D.P.S.) and Land Management closing the streets around the fire well City of Needles Public Works Crews rushed to place road barricades around the fire.
According to Daniel Nelson of the San Bernardino County Fire Department, streets around the fire have been reopened.
On Sunday, June 14th, 2015, road barricades were still seen up blocking I Street at Third Street, but I Street at West Broadway was reopened.
As firefighters battled the fire that lasted for hours, a brief thunderstorm moved over the area of the fire bringing brief downpours of rain as well as some winds and lightning with thunder.
Daniel Nelson of the San Bernardino County Fire Department tells ZachNews that the fire spread quickly due to weather conditions, and the brief rain that fell didn’t help in putting out the fire.
As for evacuations, Daniel Nelson of the San Bernardino County Fire Department tells ZachNews that he doesn’t believe there was any evacuations.
Several witnesses tells ZachNews that the Jack In The Box was cleared out for a bit due to the fire was close by the fast food restaurant, and up on a hill overlooking the fire, McDonald’s had smoke blown at the fast food restaurant which due to the street closures, had very little traffic.
As for injuries, Daniel Nelson of the San Bernardino County Fire Department tells ZachNews that a firefighter had minor injuries; the firefighter rolled his ankle.
ZachNews seen the firefighter and asked if he was alright, but he said he was alright, and even with the injury, this firefighter continued on his own to fight the fire.
As for any arrest related to this fire, Daniel Nelson of the San Bernardino County Fire Department tells ZachNews that a Person of Interest was talked to by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, but they didn’t make an arrest.
** Video of the interview at the following ZachNews on YouTube website address: **
As the cause of this fire remains under investigation, anyone with information is asked to contact the We-Tip Hotline at: 1 (800) 47-ARSON (1-800-472-7766) or San Bernardino County Fire Department Dispatch at: 1 (909) 356-3805.
** Videos of this fire are at the following ZachNews on YouTube website addresses: **
– Downtown Needles, CA: 6-13-2015: Homes on Fire.
– Downtown Needles, CA: 6-13-2015: Homes on Fire 2.
– Downtown Needles, CA: 6-13-2015: Homes on Fire 3.
– Downtown Needles, CA: 6-13-2015: Homes on Fire 4.
– Downtown Needles, CA: 6-13-2015: Homes on Fire 5.
– Downtown Needles, CA: 6-13-2015: Homes on Fire 6.
– Downtown Needles, CA: 6-13-2015: Homes on Fire 7.
– Downtown Needles, CA: 6-13-2015: Homes on Fire 8.
– Downtown Needles, CA: 6-13-2015: Homes on Fire 9.
– Downtown Needles, CA: 6-13-2015: Homes on Fire 10.
**** Stay tuned to ZachNews as more news updates with more information regarding this news story. ****