Thursday, January 26, 2017

"Exceptional drought" -- has been entirely erased from California for the first time in three years.

California out of 'exceptional drought' category after recent storms

(Left) A map of California from the United States Drought Monitor. (Right) A car drives through a flooded street in Van Nuys on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. (United States Drought Monitor | AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Updated 52 mins ago
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The series of powerful storms to recently douse California has lessened the state's drought.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the worst level of drought -- "exceptional drought" -- has been entirely erased from California for the first time in three years.

Just 2.16 percent of the state is in "extreme drought," the group states.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map indicates the 2.16 percent includes portions of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Kern and Los Angeles counties.

At its height, nearly 60 percent of the state was under "exceptional drought."

During this wet season, Los Angeles has received 216 percent of normal rainfall to date.

Despite this, California's top water regulator is not ready to lift emergency conservation measures enacted during the height of the drought.

"It makes the most sense to continue steady as she goes," State Water Resources Control Board chairwoman Felicia Marcus told The Associated Press after the latest in a series of storms brought more snow to the mountains and record-breaking rainfall to parts of the Southland.

Marcus and the other four board members will decide Feb. 7 whether to extend measures requiring local water districts to enforce conservation rules, provide monthly reports on water usage and show they have a three-year water supply.

January typically is the wettest month in California. Marcus said in interviews this week that she is concerned that subsequent months could turn out dry and that California could again be forced to scramble to save water if the restrictions are not kept in place.

California has endured more than five years of drought. In January 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency, later ordering residents statewide to cut water use by 25 percent - the first mandate of its kind in the state's history.

4-alarm fire in Flushing, Queens that destroyed 15 business was caused by cooking on a stove


CeFaan Kim, Eyewitness News
Thursday, January 26, 2017 10:03AM
FLUSHING, Queens (WABC) -- The fire that ripped through a row of businesses in Queens Wednesday was accidental, FDNY fire marshals said Thursday.

Investigators say it was sparked by a stove fire, caused by cooking.

Firefighters battled the large fire Wednesday afternoon and into the night in a shopping district that spread to at least 15 stores.

The fire broke out at about 2 p.m. on Roosevelt Avenue near the intersection of Main Street in Flushing. It took until after 8 p.m. for the fire to be extinguished.

The fire generated a four-alarm response.

Fire officials said there was a partial collapse of the rear roof.

"This is a difficult fire, a lot of smoke. Pockets of fire travel to different occupancies," said Chief Joseph Pfeifer, FDNY.

Here's a look at photos showing flames shooting from the roof:

PHOTOS: Large fire in Flushing, Queens

Fire officials said the fire was in the duct work of the building, and that's how they believe it spread to the second building and beyond.

Witnesses described a genuine fear for firefighters safety. It took more than 175 of them to get the blaze under control. A store sign collapsed just moments after they entered the building.

"Just shock. They're inside and the fire is just getting bigger. So I was afraid for them," said Chris Urban, a witness. "And then they were getting the saw and cutting the sign as fast as possible."

Three firefighters are being evaluated at the hospital for minor injuries.

"These are local mom and pop stores, it's absolutely heartbreaking. It's not just the owners. There are dozens if not hundreds of workers at these 15 stores. These are working families, everyday people that rely on those jobs to put food on the table. So they're nervous, they're scared," State Assemblyman Ron Kim said.

The fire disrupted service on the 7 train line for hours, but it resumed service with delays just before 11:30 p.m. Several buses remain detoured, including Q48, Q12 and Q15.

Here's video from the Eyewitness News reporter CeFaan Kim at the scene:

Officials say the timing of the fire was especially bad, coming less than two weeks before the community celebrates the Lunar New Year.

It's a celebration that usually brings a big economic boost to the neighborhood.

Driver killed after a 50-pound dumbbell crashed through windshield on NJ Turnpike

Man injured when dumbbell crashed through windshield on NJ Turnpike dies

Rescuers were on the scene of a crash on the NJ Turnpike on January 9, 2017.

Thursday, January 26, 2017 09:48AM
OLDMANS TWP., New Jersey -- A man who suffered serious injuries when a 50-pound dumbbell crashed through the windshield of his SUV earlier this month has died.

State police said Wednesday that 75-year-old Jack DeCarlo died from the injuries he suffered in the Jan. 9 incident. Additional details were not released.

Rescuers were on the scene of a crash on the NJ Turnpike on January 9, 2017.

Authorities say the Hamilton Township man was driving south on the New Jersey Turnpike near Oldmans Township when the dumbbell hit the SUV's windshield. The vehicle then veered off the road.

DeCarlo suffered serious injuries but was conscious when he was flown to a hospital. His wife, who was in the car with him, suffered minor injuries.

State police are still trying to determine where the dumbbell came from and if it was intentionally thrown at the SUV.