The Fourth of July traditionally keeps first responders busy in Orange County and 2015 was no different. A fight during a large neighborhood Independence Day party in Santa Ana left a man dead, and there were four fires across the region blamed on illegal fireworks.
Santa Ana cops were called around 9:40 p.m. Saturday to help Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) personnel with an unidentified 55-year-old man who was unresponsive in the street in the 2500 block of North Linwood Avenue. William Branch III of Santa Ana was taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where he was pronounced dead.
Meanwhile, homicide detectives were called to the neighborhood, and their preliminary investigation revealed Branch had been a participant in the fight, although it was unknown if he died from injuries in the assault or for a medical condition. An autopsy was pending.
"All parties have been identified and interviewed," reads a Santa Ana Police statement. "There are no outstanding suspects."
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Santa Ana Police homicide detectives at 714.245.8390 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855.847.6227 (855-TIP-OCCS), via occrimestoppers.org or by texting to 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S) from a cell phone. (All text messages should begin with the letters "OCCS".)
Around the same time as the party incident, a fire that may have been started by illegal fireworks scorchedtwo palm trees outside a two-story, multi-family building in the 800 block of South Townsend Street in Santa Ana.
The flames quickly spread to the structure, and 30 OCFA firefighters put out the flames by 9:50 p.m., according to Capt. Steve Concialdi of the fire agency.
About the same time that fire started, another blaze believe to have been started by illegal fireworks began on the roof of a Stanton home and quickly spread into the attic, Concialdi said.
Four people were displaced by the fire in the 8600 block of Lullaby Lane, where the flames were knocked down at 10:10 p.m.
About 35 minutes later, a one-acre brush fire was reported on a hillside at Camino Jalisco and Caminito Arroyo Seco in Laguna Hills, where investigators found illegal fireworks, according to Concialdi.
Thankfully, no one was injured in the fire that was out by 11:15 p.m.