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An apparent dryer fire sent clouds of thick black smoke soaring over Goleta just before 5 p.m. April 30, burning and badly damaging four houses in the 600 block of Dara Road not far from Kellogg School.
One firefighter was injured, and three of the homes are reportedly goners.
The fire, coming as it did amid 90-degree temperatures and blustery winds just as the evening commute was starting, also spiked traffic on Noozhawk as eager readers competed with each other to report it — presumably after they called 9-1-1. Quickly getting to work were our Tom Bolton and Gina Potthoff, the latter of whom already was in the neighborhood, at nearby Fairview Gardens, to cover the unveiling of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce’s new Goleta Magazine.
According to Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason, investigators determined that the fire ignited in corrugated metal at the rear of a clothes dryer, then feasted on lint build-up.
Eliason said the blaze blew through the home before spreading to the house next door, and then leaping to two other homes, helped along by 30 mph winds.
A woman at the first house tried to extinguish the fire but quickly realized she was outmatched and wisely called for help. Eliason said she had been asleep but was awakened by the blaring of her smoke detector.
All four houses have been deemed uninhabitable, although one only temporarily. The American Red Cross Santa Barbara County Chapter is helping the displaced residents.
County firefighters were assisted by Santa Barbara Fire Department personnel. One county firefighter was transported to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital for treatment of leg and heat-related injuries, Elisaon said.
The body of a homeless man in his 60s was found on State Street in downtown Santa Barbara just after daybreak April 27. Authorities say there were no signs of foul play.
Santa Barbara police Sgt. Bryan Jensen said officers know the identity of the man, who was found on the sidewalk across from the Metro 4 Theatre in the 600 block of State Street. His name has not been disclosed because police have not been able to track down next of kin.
A Santa Barbara man wanted in connection with a four-car hit-and-run collision turned himself in to police the next day. Three people — including a pregnant woman — were injured in the wreck.
Jerry David Jackintell, 52, surrendered the day after the crash, which occurred the night of April 24 on Calle Real near Las Positas Road at Earl Warren Showgrounds.
According to police Officer Jaycee Hunter, Jackintell was driving a Range Rover that slammed into a line of westbound vehicles stopped on Calle Real, causing a chain-reaction involving three cars ahead of him.
“The suspect vehicle approached ... at a high rate of speed, and went into a locked-wheel skid,” Hunter said.
The drivers of the three vehicles all suffered minor injuries, and were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
Witnesses told investigators the Range Rover’s driver got out and checked on the other three vehicles before fleeing the scene.
Jackintell’s “only explanation was he got scared and didn’t know what to do,” Hunter said.
Police knew what to do, however, booking him into Santa Barbara County Jail on a felony charge of leaving the scene of an injury accident. Bail was set at $50,000.
The victims — a 71-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman and a 25-year-old pregnant woman — were expected to recover from their injuries.
An office manager at a Santa Maria property management company was arrested April 28 on suspicion of embezzling “large sums of money” from her employer over the course of several years.
Melissa Reynoso, 44, of Santa Maria, was charged with embezzlement, preparing false documents as evidence, and an aggravated white-collar-crime enhancement, according to a statement from Santa Maria police.
The arrest concluded a months-long embezzlement investigation.
“During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Reynoso had embezzled large sums of money during several years as an employee,” police said in a statement.
Reynoso was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail.
She was arrested at an office complex at 2540 Professional Parkway, which is home to several real estate-related companies.
Authorities say distracted driving appears to be the preliminary cause of a rollover collision near downtown Santa Barbara the afternoon of April 25. Only minor injuries were reported but one of the motorists was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment.
According to police Sgt. Bryan Jensen, a woman driving on Olive Street was fiddling with her cell phone when she blew through the stop sign at Cota Street, clipping the rear end of a passing pickup truck and sending the vehicle into the path of a van headed in the other direction. The impact with the van caused the pickup truck to roll over.
The van driver had minor injuries but no one else was hurt, Jensen said.
The identities of those involved have not been disclosed. No citations have been issued so far, but Jensen said the collision remains under investigation.
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Team Noozhawk is proud to congratulate Megan Monroe, one of our Spring 2014 interns, who is graduating from Westmont College on May 3. She’s been a terrific addition to our team and we look forward to working with her again. Way to go, Megan!
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Happy birthday, Mom.
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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at email@example.com, follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.