A fire caused by a toppled over space heater could have led to tragedy if not for a Bay Area father’s fast action.
The 44 year old dad, identified by neighbors only as "Charles" suffered serious burns to his feet when he ran back into his burning apartment to save his 3-year-old son.
"The flames were just pouring out of there," Lisa Sarna told KTVU. She lives in nearby Glen Cove, saw the heavy smoke, and detoured to see if she could help. She found the man outside, hobbling in pain. "And he said 'my feet'. And I looked down, and they were peeling and pretty exposed," Sarna grimaced.
The fire broke out Friday morning, after the man's wife had left for work. He told fire investigators he and his son were sleeping, when his futon caught fire. The upper floor mother-in-law unit was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
"He was jumping around, like ‘my feet are hot, my feet are hot’," neighbor David Hann told KTVU. "He said the heater fell on the bed, and the covers caught on fire, and he was trying to put it out with his feet."
As the fire was spreading, the man said he abandoned his efforts to put it out, stepped outside quickly, grabbed a gulp of air and then went back in for his young son. The boy was uninjured but in shock, according to Serna, who waited and tried to comfort the two victims, as paramedics were called.
"It was heartbreaking because my grandson's 3," added Serna. "So when I saw him, and his eyes were wide, staring straight ahead, you couldn't talk to him. My daughter took off her shirt and wrapped him in it, because all he had on was a diaper and t-shirt."
With frigid temperatures, it's the time of year when people sometimes turn to unorthodox and dangerous methods to stay warm including stoves, ovens and even BBQ grills. Fire departments around the Bay Area all have horror stories of deadly fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, as a result of such efforts.
Space heaters present a particular hazard when extension cords are used, raising the risk of electrical short.
"I think a space heater, when you get those elements red hot, they do ignite flammable materials,” Vallejo Fire Department spokesman Arthur Gonzales told KTVU. It's best to place them away from furniture or fabric. Newer models are safest because many offer automatic shutoff features if they overload or tip-over.
The precise cause of the fire is under investigation but the apartment was destroyed and the family is now without a place to live.
Lisa Sarna tried to comfort the injured dad, but he was suffering from the loss, as well as his burns.
"I said, 'you're a hero, you saved your son, you're a hero'. And it was heartbreaking, because he was saying 'it's Christmas, it's Christmas, why does this have to happen? Everything I have is in there.’,” Sarna tells KTVU.
The Rockets' offense is one of the best in the NBA. However, against Golden State on Friday night, it was the defense that was the key.
Houston leaned on its defense in the first quarter while jumping out to a double-digit lead it didn't relinquish.
James Harden scored 34 points, Dwight Howard had 22 points and 18 rebounds, and the Rockets beat the Warriors 105-83.
Terrence Jones added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who had lost two straight. Harden shot 13 for 22 from the field and 7 for 9 on free throws two nights after shooting 3 for 17 — including 0 for 10 on 3-pointers — against Phoenix.
Howard was 12 for 20 on free throws as the Rockets finished 25 for 39 from the line. Houston was also 45 percent from the field.
"That's the way we play," Harden said. "If we don't get after them on the defensive end, it's going to be tough for us. We were getting huge stops and getting out in transition. We did a good job early in the game of putting pressure on their guards, and we got things going our way."
Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 22 points and five assists, but was just 5 of 14 from the field while making all 11 free-throw attempts. Harrison Barnes had 14 points and seven rebounds, Kent Bazemore added 12 and David Lee 11 points as the Warriors saw their two-game win streak end.
Golden State shot 36 percent from the field, including 2 for 16 on 3s.
"They're a tough team," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "They shoot a lot of 3s. They shoot them at a really high percentage. We were trying to get them off the line and keep pressure on them and keep our bids up so they just couldn't walk into shots. For the most part, we did a very good job of that."
Golden State coach Mark Jackson said it was a bad loss.
"The way we started the ball game, there have been times when our bench has been bad, and we let them know, and tonight, the starters did a poor job of setting the tone," Jackson said. "We got outworked. They played with more force and that set the tone the rest of the way."
The Rockets led 61-37 at halftime and pushed the advantage to 28 on Harden's three-point play less than 2 minutes into the third quarter.
Golden State pulled to 74-50 on Jermaine O'Neal's jumper midway through the third, and the Warriors resorted to 'Hack-a-Howard' with 5:40 remaining in the period.
Howard made 2 of 4 from the line, and the Warriors pulled to 76-54 on O'Neal's layup with 5:06 to go in the quarter. Howard connected on the next two free throws, and the Warriors went away from hacking him.
Golden State got no closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
"It's like tonight we didn't hit shots early, and we have a tendency to dwell on that, and we weren't getting stops and we can't turn the ball over on offense," Curry said. "We gave them extra possessions early in the game to get their confidence going."
Houston opened up a 31-12 lead after the first quarter on 60-percent shooting from the field.
The Rockets hit nine of their first 11 field goals as Jones led the way with 11 points in the quarter and Howard had nine.
"We did the best job we could on making sure those guys didn't get 3s off tonight, and that's where it started," Howard said. "Our defense was great from the beginning. We had a lot of deflections. We ran the floor well and put pressure on their guards to make plays to other guys instead of them coming off and scoring."
Golden State opened the second with five straight points to pull within 14 on Curry's 3, but the Rockets responded with a 16-6 spurt over a 5-minute stretch to open up a 55-30 lead on Patrick Beverley's layup with 1:30 to go in the half. Harden had eight points in the run.
The Warriors shot 27 percent from the field and hit 1 of 8 from beyond the arc in the first half after scoring 19 points in the first quarter three nights earlier against Toronto and trailing by 17 at the half.
"I know there is a reason for it that's excusable," Klay Thompson said of the slow starts. "It's very disappointing. As a starter, we have to come out there with unlimited energy."
NOTES: Houston forward Chandler Parsons returned after missing the last two games with back spasms. Parsons finished with eight points and five assists on 3-of-13 shooting in 34 minutes. ... The Warriors' 12 first quarter points tied a season low for a quarter and was the Warriors' fewest points in a first quarter. ... The 12 first-quarter points was also a season-low for points in a quarter allowed by the Rockets.
The drive up to Calistoga was a rainy one Friday night, but just north of there, the rain turned to snow. Heavy flakes fell Friday afternoon, coating the roadside with a dusting of snow and Caltrans was ready. Scrapers and sand trucks paced Highway 29, while a flashing sign warned, "Caution...ice and snow ahead".
The snow level dropped below 2000 feet Friday, not unheard of, but not an everyday occurrence either.
"I'm excited because I have 4-wheel drive in my car," said Melissa Chavez, clerk at the local hardware store.
Chavez says they did brisk business on ice scrapers and other no-frills cold weather items.
"We're selling a lot of Top Ramen soup and then a lot of plumbing, to cover the pipes," said Chavez. That's what Val Allred was doing Friday night, as he clutched pipe insulation in his hands.
"I have a problem at home," Allred said.
A valve that was fine when he left for work Friday morning cracked in the cold and snow.
"This isn't uncommon, but I'm tired of the pipes breaking," said Allred.
On Friday Caltrans warned drivers to consider whether they really needed to be on the roads in this weather. Caltrans cautioned drivers to take it slowly, and leave plenty of distance between cars. The rain is needed and the snow is pretty, but the effects can linger long after the snow is gone.
"I'll fix it next spring when it thaws out," said Allred as he got in his truck to drive home to a flooded yard.
Alameda County Fire Chief Demetrious Shaffer will retire at the end of the year after only 18 months in the position, county officials said Friday.
Shaffer was appointed as fire chief last December after serving as the interim fire chief for six months when former Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert resigned in June 2012.
Shaffer began his career as a firefighter in Mountain View and was appointed as Newark's fire chief in 2005. He joined Alameda County when Newark began contracting with the county for fire services in 2010.
County officials said Shaffer has done a good job of leading the department over the past 18 months during challenging financial times and has been involved in efforts to achieve regional efficiencies in the delivery of fire services.
The Alameda County Fire Department now serves the unincorporated part of the county as well as the cities of Dublin, Emeryville, Newark, San Leandro and Union City and the Lawrence Berkeley and Livermore national laboratories.
Board of Supervisors President Keith Carson said in a statement, "The Board of Supervisors extends its sincere appreciation to Chief Shaffer for his vision, leadership and professionalism. He will be missed as a key member of the county's executive leadership team and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
County officials said Shaffer is retiring so he can spend time with his family.
A pedestrian was seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident in San Francisco's Lower Haight neighborhood Tuesday night, a San Francisco police spokesman said.
The incident was reported just before 9 p.m. at Oak and Scott streets, San Francisco police Officer Albie Esparza said.
The car was heading east on Oak Street when the pedestrian was struck while walking across the street in the crosswalk, Esparza said.
Based on witness accounts, the driver was speeding and ran a red
light, Esparza said.
The 25-year-old man was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries, Esparza said.
Police are searching for the driver and vehicle. Esparza said the car may have front-end damage.
Friends and family of the victim have identified him as Pepe Bolorinos.
His brother John Bolorinos posted on Facebook Thursday," Pepe Bolorinos was in a horrible accident, it was a hit and run...he was the pedestrian. I am so thankful that he is still alive and not in a coma, but he has suffered a traumatic brain injury and will be recovering for a while."
According to Pepe Bolorinos' Facebook profile he lives in San Francisco and attended the University of California at Davis and then transferred to UC Berkeley. He graduated in 2010.
In the days since the incident, his online profile has filled with posts offering well wishes from friends and family members.