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Bill Macfadyen: Brewhouse Fire Wrests Top Spot Away from Back-to-Back Earthquakes

As fire and quakes vie for the reads, NoozWeek’s Top 5 reports on a freeway overpass fall, a missing boy at Lake Cachuma, and me again

Well, this wasn’t on the menu. Click to view larger
Well, this wasn’t on the menu. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)

I can’t say it was a surprise. None of the mock NFL draft predictions had me going in the first round, and the 2017 class of cornerbacks is a loaded one. It’s still disappointing when your name isn’t called on Day One, but I’m sure my phone will ring this weekend.

While NFL general managers were scripting their futures this past week, there were 125,799 people who were reading Noozhawk, according to our Google Analytics.

So here’s my mock column about your Top 5 stories of the week. With the first pick, Noozhawk readers trade up to select ...

1. Fire Damages Brewhouse Bistro & Brewery in Santa Barbara

An overnight fire left The Brewhouse Santa Barbara in shambles April 26. There were no injuries in the blaze but the popular bistro and brewery at 229 W. Montecito St. will be closed indefinitely.

According to Santa Barbara Fire Battalion Chief Jim McCoy, a neighbor noticed an electrical smell and called 9-1-1 about 3:40 a.m.

Firefighters arrived to find smoke coming from the single-story building. Once inside, he said, they found a small fire behind the bar area and quickly put it out.

“The cause of the fire is classified as accidental and is the result of a heat source located too close to combustible materials,” Fire Inspector Amber Anderson told our Tom Bolton.

The building was left with significant heat and smoke damage, McCoy said. A damage estimate was not immediately available.

On April 28, Brewhouse co-owner Pete Johnson told our Tom Bolton that the plans are to reopen within two months.

A GoFundMe page has been started for the benefit of employees while the place is closed. Click here to make an online donation.

This story started out April 27 in a distant second place, but steadily climbed throughout the day to shake up our Top 5 with 10,144 reads — edging out the No. 2 story by a mere 14 reads in the last 15 minutes of the cycle.

2. An Hour After 3.5 Earthquake Jolts Southern Santa Barbara County, 3.1 Quake Strikes

Montecito was shaken by two back-to-back minor earthquakes on April 23. No damage was reported, but the one-two jolt put a charge into Noozhawk’s Sunday morning traffic.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a magnitude-3.5 earthquake was recorded at 10:55 a.m. about 2 miles south-southwest of Montecito at a depth of about 8 miles.

At 11:56 a.m., a 3.1-magnitude quake was recorded in the same vicinity.

We had just started the Eucharist at All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito when the first earthquake surfaced. I’m not sure anyone felt it, but the sanctuary did let out an odd, audible groan from behind the reredos at our high altar. I thought it was just the Holy Spirit, but it turns out He wasn’t alone.

Click here for Noozhawk’s Emergency Preparedness section, including complete earthquake readiness recommendations and tips.

3. Man Injured in Plunge from Freeway Overpass in Carpinteria

A man was taken to the hospital with serious injuries the afternoon of April 23 after he plunged off a freeway overpass in Carpinteria. He landed in the middle of northbound Highway 101 but somehow managed to escape getting hit by traffic.

Emergency personnel were dispatched at 4 p.m. to the freeway below the Bailard Avenue overpass where a man was reported to be lying in the roadway. It was not known whether he had jumped from the bridge or fell from it, authorities said.

The man was transported by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Further details were not immediately available.

These guys are not at Lake Cachuma to enjoy the view. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)
These guys are not at Lake Cachuma to enjoy the view. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

4. Lake Cachuma Is Focus of Search for Missing 5-Year-Old San Marino Boy

Two days after a fun-filled weekend fishing derby brought hundreds of fish-catching enthusiasts to Lake Cachuma, a smaller, far more somber contingent descended on the 3,100-acre reservoir in the Santa Ynez Valley.

5-year-old Aramazd Andressian is 3-foot-5 and weighs 55 pounds. (Andressian family photo)
5-year-old Aramazd Andressian is 3-foot-5 and weighs 55 pounds. (Andressian family photo)

The April 24 fishing expedition was for clues in the disappearance of a 5-year-old Los Angeles County boy, whose mother reported him missing the morning of April 22 after his father failed to return him to her San Marino home. The couple is in the process of divorcing.

The search of the lake yielded little information, which only deepened the mystery.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Joe Mendoza told our Tom Bolton that the boy, Aramazd Andressian Jr., was last seen April 20 at Disneyland, with his father, 35-year-old Aramazd Andressian.

Not long after the boy was reported missing, the elder Andressian was found alone and unconscious in a vehicle near Arroyo Park in South Pasadena. He was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment and child abduction, and gave conflicting statements to investigators, Mendoza said.

He said Andressian was of little help to detectives, but they were able to determine that he had spent April 21 at Cachuma.

Santa Barbara County sheriff’s personnel — including members of the dive team, tracking dogs and a county helicopter — assisted in the search, which was centered around El Dorado Point, where Andressian is believed to have spent much of his day.

“We’re trying to identify witnesses who saw him in the area, park attendants, anyone who may have seen him,” Mendoza said.

After combing the area for several hours, Mendoza told Tom that investigators had not found any sign that the boy had been with his father at the lake.

Andressian was later released from custody after South Pasadena police and the Los Angeles County sheriff decided there was insufficient evidence to send the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Aramazd is described as 3 feet, 5 inches tall and weighing about 55 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a turquoise shirt and plaid shorts.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323.890.5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800.222.8477.

5. Bill Macfadyen: Buellton Woman’s Trip Takes a Deadly Turn on the Nojoqui Grade

The deaths of two women captivated Noozhawk readers this past week.

Sang Oudinarath’s was an apparent accident. The 57-year-old Buellton resident was killed when her car spun off a rain-slickened Highway 101 on the Nojoqui Grade north of Gaviota early on April 18. She was pronounced dead in the wreckage.

Elyse Marie Erwin’s was a suspected murder. The body of the 28-year-old Santa Maria mom was discovered in the parking lot of a quiet Orcutt residential complex on Easter morning. She had been shot in the head.

Erwin’s ex-boyfriend — Jorge Fernandez Tovar, 26, of Lompoc — was arrested as a suspect April 19, and is facing charges of felony murder, a special circumstance for lying in wait, and allegations that include discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury and use of a firearm.

Tovar’s arraignment has been continued to May 12. He remains without bail in County Jail.

Erwin and Tovar had a 6-year-old daughter together. The girl is staying with relatives and has been granted a criminal protective order from her father.

A GoFundMe page that was started to help Erwin’s family with funeral expenses and her daughter’s care has raised almost $15,000, nearly triple the initial goal. Click here to make an online donation.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Paula Lopez Given Jail Time in Goleta DUI Case Plea Deal.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

I wonder if the FBI still has my fingerprints on file? From the time I turned myself in ... as part of earning the Fingerprinting merit badge in Scouts: Inside the FBI’s Colossal Fingerprint Factory.

                                                                  •        •        •

Watch It

Bless you, Natalie Tran. You really do get those of us who don’t suffer from allergies in these spring winds.

(communitychannel video)

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com, follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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