Spontaneous combustion of tempura flakes blamed for sushi restaurant fires

iStock(MADISON, Wis.) -- A popular sushi ingredient is believed to be the cause of seven restaurant fires across the country, after officials discovered the product could self-heat and spontaneously combust.

The fires, five of which happened in Wisconsin, were the "result of a preparation technique" used to make deep-fried tempura flakes, commonly referred to as "crunch" but properly called tenkasu or agedama, according to a statement from the city of Madison's fire department.

The process to create the flakes involves using vegetable or soybean oil and deep frying the batter in patches before letting it cool in a bowl. However because the oils have the ability to self-heat, as the flakes cool off, the oil heats up in a contained environment, according to the statement.

"These conditions can create an environment for a fire to occur," the statement read.

Kara Nelson, a fire investigator with the Madison Fire Department, told ABC News Tuesday that surveillance footage from the fires confirmed the blazes started in a bowl with the tempura flakes. She compared the combustion to a similar process that can happen with oily rags.

"Let's say someone wipes the stain up with some rags. The oil will combine with the oxygen in the air and in that chemical process, it releases heat," Nelson said. "If the rags are bunched up and cannot dissipate, then the environment for a fire to occur is created."

She noted that in making the tempura flakes, the process involves heating up the oil and placing them in a bowl to cool.

"You have an oil that can undergo spontaneous combustion and its heated, so we're helping the process," Nelson said. "And anything that is gonna keep that heat from being able to dissipate, it might raise to the point where a fire could occur."

Two of the fires, both at sushi restaurants in Madison, resulted in damages totaling around $575,000, according to the fire department. Neither resulted in injuries.

One blaze broke out at Sumo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar on April 5 at around 2:30 a.m. Firefighters entered the restaurant through a hatch on the roof and found the kitchen in flames. A sprinkler managed to prevent the fire from further damaging the building, and the restaurant has since reopened.

Another fire occurred on May 10 at the Madison restaurant Takara just before midnight. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire, though the damage was extensive. Takara remains closed.

Nelson said similar incidents have happened in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Ashburn, Virginia. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives helped in each investigation.

She hopes the attention around the sushi ingredient will raise awareness to its ability to combust, and urged anyone making the tempura flakes not to leave them unattended overnight and to lay them out flat rather than piled in a mound.

However, she noted that the combustion is only possible under specific conditions.

"We've got questions like, 'If we eat this are we gonna spontaneously combust?,'" she said. "And the answer to that is no. Vegetable oil and canola oil have the highest tendency to undergo spontaneous combustion, but it's not gonna do it sitting on the shelf."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


2-year-old Gabriella Vitale found alive and healthy after she was missing overnight in northern Michigan woods

iStock(MONROE, Mich.) -- A missing 2-year-old girl was found alive and healthy Tuesday morning after she spent the night lost in the woods while on a family camping trip in northern Michigan, authorities said.

Gabriella Roselynn Vitale was reunited with her mother and taken to a hospital to be evaluated, but first responders say she appears to be in good shape, according to Michigan State Police.

Gabriella was reported missing on Monday, launching an urgent search. Gabriella's family had told authorities that they had been camping in a wooded area for a few days and were getting ready to leave Monday morning when they noticed that the toddler was gone.

On Tuesday morning, more than 24 hours after she disappeared, Gabriella walked to a home between a quarter mile and a half mile away from the command center, said police.

A resident at the home had been contacted by authorities earlier so she knew Gabriella was missing, said police.

This house was out of the zone that had been searched so far, police said.

Gabriella was missing her bottoms and her shoes, but seemed relatively unfazed for a 2-year-old who had been missing in the woods overnight, said police.

Early into the search, the girl’s pink jacket was found several hundred yards away from where she went missing, police said.

Over 50 searchers and 10 canines were looking for the little girl Tuesday morning before police announced that she had been found.

The family says they live in the Monroe, Michigan, area, which is about 200 miles south of where they were camping.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


DOJ will not file charges against officer involved in Eric Garner’s death

tillsonburg/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The Justice Department on Monday has declined to file federal civil rights charges against the New York Police Department officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, whose dying words “I can’t breathe” became a national rallying cry for demonstrations about police treatment of minorities, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The decision comes one day before the fifth anniversary of Garner’s death and the expiration of the statute of limitations. The death of Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, was ruled a homicide in August 2014.

In a statement, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that "New York City is not the same city it was five years ago."

"Years ago," he said, "we put our faith in the federal government to act. We won't make that mistake again."

"We are a different city, and we must act like a different city. Moving forward, we will not wait for the federal government to commence our own disciplinary proceedings. Reforms over the last five years have improved relations between our police and our communities. Crime is at record lows, and last year, we arrested 150,000 fewer people than the year before we came into office. This further reform will make sure no family ever waits years for the answers they deserve.”

Demonstrations are planned Wednesday in Manhattan and Staten Island.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


15-year-old boy dies after falling on camp outing in Pennsylvania

Paul Hartley/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A 15-year-old boy fell to his death while rock climbing in Pennsylvania on an outing with his camp, authorities said.

The fall happened Monday near the YMCA Deer Valley Camp in Fort Hill in Somerset County, Stephen Limani, a spokesman for state police, told ABC News. The boy, who was not identified, was attending a teen wilderness camp through the YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer in Beaver County.

He plummeted about 50 feet after he and other campers began scaling a rock formation in a state forest, Limani said. Camp counselors took the children to the forest to hike and rock climb, according to Limani.

The boy was airlifted to a local hospital, where he died.

State police are investigating the incident.

The YMCA did not immediately respond to ABC News for comment.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Dad of missing pregnant postal worker: 'I just want my baby to come home'

WLS-TV(CHICAGO) -- The father of a pregnant Chicago postal service worker who vanished nine months ago believes his daughter is alive and is pleading for the public to help.

"I just want my baby to come home, along with my grandbaby that I never got to meet," Joseph Coles said at a news conference on Monday.

Coles' daughter, Kierra Coles, a 26-year-old employee of the U.S. Postal Service, vanished on Oct. 2, 2018. She was about three months pregnant at the time.

Chicago police said in October that they suspected possible foul play.

Joseph Coles on Monday suggested his daughter may be being held captive in a vacant home.

But he said the police are out of leads.

"Somebody knows something," he said. "If you've got any information, please come forward. I'm the father and I will not be going anywhere no time soon."

"I will continue to keep looking," Joseph Coles said. "I will keep pushing this information until she is brought home safely to me."

Chicago police said Tuesday that no one is in custody in the Kierra Coles case, calling it an active investigation.

Joseph Coles said he also wanted to draw attention to the others currently missing in Chicago.

"We need to bring them home to their families safely," he said.

He encouraged anyone with a missing loved one who needs help securing resources to contact him.

Among the other speakers Monday was Norma Peterson, sister-in-law of Stacy Peterson, who vanished in Bolingbrook, Illinois, nearly 12 years ago.

"We still search for her every day," Norma Peterson said.

"We just want them home," she said, her voice shaking.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Chicago alligator captured one week after it was first spotted in lagoon

Chicago Animal Care and Control(CHICAGO) -- An alligator was captured in Humboldt Park Lagoon in Chicago early Tuesday morning, one week after the reptile was first spotted there.

The gator, nicknamed "Chance the Snapper," was hiding in the lily pads when he was caught safely and unharmed at about 1:30 a.m., officials said.

Expert Frank Robb, who traveled to- Chicago from Florida to help capture the animal, said he reeled Chance in from the shore and then "grabbed ahold of him."

Robb presented Chance to captivated reporters at the Humboldt Park Boathouse Tuesday morning, ending the unusual, week-long hunt.

The gator is about 5 feet long and weighs about 30 to 40 pounds, Robb said.

He appears healthy, officials said.

Chance was believed to have been a pet that someone dropped off at the lagoon, Jenny Schlueter, a spokeswoman for Chicago Animal Care and Control, told ABC News last week.

After days of searching, the area around the lagoon was closed Monday in the hopes that the quiet would help lure the animal out of hiding.

The gator will eventually go to a zoo or sanctuary, officials said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


California hiker found after going missing with dog 'thankful'

Inyo County Sheriffs Office/Facebook(NEW YORK) -- A missing hiker who was found alive Monday, days after she vanished in a remote area of California where she says she fled from a knife-wielding man, tells ABC News she's "thankful" to be home and reunited with her loved ones.

Sheryl Powell, 60, of Huntington Beach, California, and her husband, along with their small dog, arrived at the Grandview Campground in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest area of the Inyo National Forest on Friday afternoon for a weekend camping trip. Sheryl Powell said she decided to take the dog for a walk and briefly explore the wilderness around them while her husband, Joseph Powell, parked their vehicle.

"Miley, my dog, and I went off together and never quite made it back as soon as I thought," Sheryl Powell told ABC News' Amy Robach in an interview with her family, which aired Tuesday on Good Morning America.
Suddenly, a man with a knife emerged from behind a tree and threatened Powell and her dog, she said.

"He had been observing me and it was scary," she told ABC News. "If we made noise, if we yelled out, he was going to use [the knife] on us."

Powell said she tried to be compliant until she had a chance to flee.

"I took off with my dog and we just ran in a different direction than I knew my husband was, because the guy was between me and my husband, so I went the other way," she said. "I did what I had to."

Powell said she ran as fast as she could until she was certain the man wasn't following her.

"I just realized I wasn't sure where I was because I had been running out of fear," she added.

Joseph Powell said he started to become concerned as the minutes passed and his wife didn't return. He screamed her name and desperately searched the wilderness around their campsite for 45 minutes until alerting authorities.

"I realized something was seriously wrong," he told ABC News. "There's no words to describe the horror I went through looking for her."

The Inyo County Sheriff's Office launched a search in the area for Powell and her dog. They spent four days combing through the mountainous terrain.

"Every day that went on got harder and harder," the couple's daughter, Farrah, told ABC News. "Each day, our hope was kind of dwindling and we tried to stay strong, but it was a very concerning situation."

"It was definitely the lowest point we'd been," the couple's son, Greg, added. "It was just very scary for us."

On Monday morning, a ground search team found the family's dog alive, about 2.5 miles from Powell's last known location, according to the Inyo County Sheriff's Office. Miley had somehow gotten loose from her leash and was barking, leading searchers to her location, the family said.

Powell was found soon after near the Montenegro Springs area of Inyo County. The searchers described Powell as being "resilient and strong but exhausted after being lost in an extremely remote area above Big Pine," the sheriff's office said.

She was transported to a local hospital for medical clearance, and now, the woman and her dog are both doing well, despite their ordeal.

"It's really strange and beautiful how that worked out, that Miley potentially was the savior here," Joseph Powell told ABC News.

While stranded in the wilderness, Powell managed to find water to drink, ate a cactus and hiked at night to avoid getting dehydrated, her family told ABC News.

Powell said she remained focused on taking care of Miley and trying to get back to her family.

"I'm just thankful to be alive and back with my family," she told ABC News. "I knew my husband was there waiting for me. So I was always determined to get back as soon as I could. I didn't know it would be four days."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Barry remnants deliver more rain as heatwave takes shape from Midwest to Northeast

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Rigley, Louisiana, saw almost 2 feet of rain because of Barry, as flooding remains an issue from Arkansas to Tennessee.

What's left of Barry on Tuesday morning is tracking west of St. Louis, as flood alerts already have been issued in eight states from Texas to Illinois.

Moisture from Barry is expected to combine with a frontal system from the North and deliver storms with heavy rain from the mid-South to the Great Lakes and into the Northeast.

By Wednesday morning, some heavy rain will spread into the Northeast, all the way into New York.

On Wednesday night and into Thursday, heavy rain is expected in Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Urban flooding is possible for areas that see as much as 4 inches of rain.

Hot weather is expected on Tuesday in parts of the South and Plains, but it will take over much of the country by Thursday with highs around 100 degrees. Thirteen states already are under heat watches and advisories.

After showers later in the week, some of the hottest air will travel into the Northeast, where some spots may see highs of 110 over the weekend.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


House explosion leaves one dead, 15 injured in Southern California

katifcam/iStock(MURRIETA, Calif.) -- One person was killed and more than a dozen others were injured when a house exploded in Southern California on Monday afternoon.

Crews from the Southern California Gas Company were sent to fix a natural gas line reportedly damaged by a contractor working on a home in Murrieta, California. Murrieta Fire and Rescue was also dispatched to the property. Less than an hour after the crews arrived on scene, the house exploded.

One employee of the Southern California Gas Company was killed in the blast, company spokesman Randon Lane told reporters at a press conference Monday.

Another 15 people, including three firefighters, were injured and transported to a local hospital for treatment, Murrieta Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief David Lantzer said.

"Our deepest sympathies are with all those impacted by the Murrieta incident," the Southern California Gas Company said via Twitter on Monday night. "Sadly, we lost one of our technicians today. He will be greatly missed."

Crews stopped the flow of gas to the property as firefighters battled the blaze.

It's unclear how many residents will be displaced in the wake of the explosion.

There's no record of the contractor calling 811 as required by California law to have utility lines marked at least two working days prior to digging, authorities said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Convicted felon driving an Uber accused of 'sexual contact' with 17-year-old: Police

Courtesy Fairfield Police Department(FAIRFIELD, Conn.) -- A 31-year-old man has been accused of "unwanted sexual contact" with a 17-year-old girl he picked up while operating as an Uber driver.

Dwaine Miller, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was arrested on Saturday and charged with third-degree sexual assault, according to Capt. Robert Kalamaras of the Fairfield Police Department.

Miller, a convicted felon with "numerous arrests" for crimes including robbery, burglary and assault, was released after posting a $5,000 bond, police said. Miller is scheduled to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on July 26. It's unclear whether he's obtained legal counsel.

"During the ride, the suspect, Dwaine Miller, allegedly made unwanted sexual contact with the juvenile female in addition to making overt sexual advances," according to police.

"What’s been reported to police is horrible and is something no one should go through," a spokeswoman for Uber told ABC News in a statement. "The driver’s access to the app has been removed. We will fully cooperate with the Fairfield Police Department’s ongoing investigation."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 3139 Next 10 Entries »

ABC News Radio