Oakland

Three people rescued in apartment fire

Three residents, including a wheelchair-bound man, were rescued by firefighters Thursday morning from a burning downtown residential apartment building, officials said.

The only injury was to the man in the wheelchair, who was hospitalized for smoke inhalation. The fire erupted about 10:45 a.m. in the man's second-floor room at the seven-story building in the 1400 block of Harrison Street.

Off-duty CalFire firefighter Gerard Dumuk happened to be passing by, saw the thick smoke coming from the apartment and went inside and brought the man to safety.

Dumuk shrugged off his heroics, saying, "I was at the right place at the right time."

Oakland Battalion Fire Chief Eric Logan said the fire was started by the man smoking in bed. Logan said sprinklers activated in the unit, which helped keep the fire from spreading.

Two other residents on the second floor escaped from windows and were brought down to the street on ladders by firefighters. Other residents of the building were told to shelter in place, officials said.

Logan said damage was confined to the one room and was in excess of $100,000.

-- Natalie Neysa Alund, Harry Harris and Jane Tyska, Staff

OAKLAND

First Friday festival canceled due to rain

For the first time since the city began street closures two years ago, Oakland First Fridays will be canceled this month because of rain.

While the monthly street party along Telegraph Avenue is off, there still will be several art exhibits on display at nearby galleries in Oakland's Uptown District.

The festival, which morphed from an art crawl into a street party with live music and art vendors, had been blessed for years by great weather, organizers said.

But this winter, despite being one of the driest on record, has not been kind to the festival.

After a surprise storm lowered attendance at the December festival, organizers decided to cancel the outdoor events when forecasts called for wet weather.

"Since we've got people with art and musicians with instruments, it would be both unsafe and unfair to have an open air street festival during the rain," festival coordinator Sarah Kidder said. By canceling the street festival, which extends along Telegraph from West Grand Avenue to 27th Street, organizers avoid paying operating costs for an event that would likely have been poorly attended.

Kidder said the outdoor festival will return March 7, weather permitting.

-- Matthew Artz, Staff

HAYWARD

Police say man grabs baby, demands money

Police are searching for a knife-wielding man suspected of grabbing a newborn baby and demanding money from its mother during a home-invasion robbery on Wednesday night.

Neither the infant nor the mother were injured.

Officers were dispatched at 8 p.m. to the 800 block of Hancock Street off Mission Boulevard for a report of a home-invasion robbery after the victim's family dialed 911 to report the crime, Sgt. Mark Ormsby said.

Police learned that a woman and a man with a knife and a bandanna over his face pushed their way into the victim's South Hayward home and demanded cash.

When the victim told the robbery suspects she did not have any money, the man picked up the victim's newborn baby and demanded money again, police said.

The victim again denied having any money then pulled the man's bandanna down and exposed his face.

The man and his accomplice then ran out of the home with the woman's cellphone, Ormsby said. The victim told police she recognized the man as an acquaintance she knew from San Jose.

The case remained under investigation on Thursday. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call police at 510-293-7034.

-- Natalie Neysa Alund, Staff

HAYWARD

San Lorenzo child rapist sentenced

A 61-year-old San Lorenzo man was sentenced Thursday to 36 years to life in prison for sexually abusing a young relative over a decade.

An Alameda County jury in December convicted Alfonzo Collier of rape of a child and three other felony sex charges for abuse that began in 2000, when the girl was 5. The crimes occurred in San Lorenzo and Sacramento. Collier, a drywaller, has been in jail since he was arrested by the Alameda County Sheriff's Office in December 2010.

In addition to the victim, Collier's jury heard testimony from two other women who were sexually molested by Collier when they were children in the 1970s and 1980s, deputy district attorney Edward Vieira-Ducey said.

-- Malaika Fraley, Staff

Oakland

Over $4 million seized in illegal car parts

Federal investigators seized more than $4 million worth of illegal car parts at the Port of Oakland after they were discovered in a shipment from China manifested as LED power supplies.

In mid-October, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers examined a commercial shipment and discovered that it did not contain the listed contents, but instead held 25,600 high-intensity discharge conversion kits and ballasts valued at $4,096,000, according to an agency news release.

The kits, which have a street value from $150 to $500 apiece, are used to convert stock vehicle headlights to a much higher intensity lamp and are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to the release.

Both agencies evaluated the validity of the imported goods and determined they were not in compliance with federal standards.

Automotive headlamps and replacement light sources and ballasts for those lamps are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

-- Natalie Neysa Alund, Staff