Southern California breaking news and trends

Highway 18 closed: Hundreds of firefighters jump on fire near Crestline

About 400 firefighters in San Bernardino County are battling a 15-acre fire that erupted Thursday night when a pickup truck plunged off Highway 18 near Crestline and burst into flames.

San Bernardino National Forest spokesman John Miller says the driver escaped with only minor injuries. One firefighter suffered an apparently broken ankle.

No homes are threatened but Highway 18 remains closed.

The blaze is being pushed by 30-mph winds and the National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings for extreme fire conditions in the mountains, valleys and coastal slopes. The warning continues until this evening because of a high-pressure ridge will keep things hot, dry and gusty.

UPDATE 9:28 a.m. Highway 18 is scheduled to re-open at 10 a.m. The number of firefighters there does not necessarily reflect the seriousness of the fire, but concern about the conditions.


Heroin burrito was smuggled into LA jail, suspected deputy 'wasn't one of our best,' said LASD

bean and cheese burrito

Muy Yum via Flickr Creative Commons

Heroin was the secret ingredient in a bean and cheese burrito that was smuggled into a Los Angeles courthouse jail allegedly by a sheriff's deputy. Ths suspected deputy at one time starred on the Fox reality show "The Academy," and was kicked off for poor performance.

Charged with bringing drugs into a jail and conspiracy to commit a crime, 27-year-old deputy Henry Marin surrendered to fellow deputies at the South Los Angeles station on Wednesday. Marin pleaded not guilty to charges related to the contraband nosh and was relieved of duty. He was released from custody on Wednesday on $25,000 bail.

"We take this very seriously," said L.A. County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore, reports the L.A. Times. "This kind of behavior is absolutely inexcusable for anybody, especially a law enforcement representative. Of Marin's performance on "The Academy," Whitmore said, "He certainly wasn't one of our best."


Clark Gable III sentenced to jail for laser pointer vs. helicopter incident

Clark Gable's grandson sentenced to jail

Image via Facebook

Clark Gable III, grandson of legendary Hollywood icon, Clark Gable, was sentenced to jail today for pointing a laser at a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter above Hollywood Boulevard on July 28.

Gable, apologetic in court, told the judge he was sorry, and that he'd learned a good lesson, says KTLA. The 23-year-old Canoga Park resident was ordered to 200 hours on a Caltrans work crew and ten days in jail. He will be on formal probation for three years and has already paid $570 in restitution. 

The King of Hollywood's kin claimed he was attempting to point the beam at the Hollywood sign and missed. Authorities said light obstructed the vision of the two officers briefly.

The "aspiring reality star" was previously in news when he was stabbed in the torso at a 2009 Calabasas party.


California high-speed rail chief Roelof Van Ark quits

Krissy Clark/KQED

Roelof Van Ark, CEO of California High Speed Rail Authority, addressing the board after announcing that he's stepping down.

Roelof van Ark, the 59-year-old head of the California high-speed rail agency, announced his resignation Thursday from the controversial and publicly scrutinized near $100 billion proposed project. It takes effect in two months.

His departure was announced at the rail authority's meeting today in Los Angeles.

Van Ark had only served since June of 2010. Van Ark has a long history of experience in high-speed rail, with 30 years of transportation experience. His resignation comes as the fate of the proposed high-speed line is being battled in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

"Clearly this project is a challenging one," van Ark told the California High Speed Rail Authority board in annoucing his resignation. "I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to play a part in the future transportation of California."


Eddie Van Halen gifts guitars to LA schools

Van Halen Press Conference To Announce Their New Tour

Michael Buckner/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 13: David Lee Roth (L) recieves a kiss from guitar player Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen donated 75 brand-new electric guitars to a number of Los Angeles schools that had recently been singing the blues.

Tricia Steel of the non-profit Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation says the Van Halen lead-guitarist dontated instruments this week.

Meant to inspire music in local children, the rocker asked that the educational axes be used in classrooms, and not sold. As a result, dozens of newly empassioned rock prodigies are realizing that in time their band will be most triumphant, but will never be a super group unless they have Eddie Van Halen. 

The guitars were gifted to seven schools serving mostly low-income students. Some will be distributed to replace broken instruments and others to build music enrollment efforts. 

Administrators, advised to keep the shiny 6-strings under tight lock and key, were not told where the guitars came from until they arrived.

Van Halen announced a tour for 2012, and details about their first studio album in 14 years. A Different Kind of Truth, due for release February 7, will be  Van Halen's first original studio album with singer David Lee Roth since the Los Angeles band’s multi-platinum album "1984". 

The first single "Tattoo" was released on Tuesday. The tour kicks off February 18.