A Brightview employee in California was driving to work Wednesday at an apartment complex in the El Cerrito area of metropolitan San Diego when he noticed smoke coming out of the building.
Antonio Lopes began to call for help but realized that there were still people inside the apartments.
“I kicked down the door, the bottom door, where the fire was and got the lady out,” he told .
The woman downstairs was asleep when she heard a banging on her door. She saw all of the smoke and Lopes helped pull her out. He proceeded upstairs to get those people out as well.
Firefighters arrived and were able to extinguish the flames on the first and second floors in about 20 minutes.
“God put me here for a reason and that’s exactly what I did,” Lope said. “I helped out those families right there.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Investigators with the Contractors State License Board in California responded to recent reports about unlicensed contractors operating in the Napa area by staging a sting operation Aug. 30-31.
The investigators created a list of suspects from ads on Craigslist and referrals from business cards. Then, posing as homeowners, they reached out to contractors about services such as landscaping, deck and concrete installations.
“Online advertising sites are good places to get leads if you are trying to find a contractor for a job,” Labor Board Registrar Cindi Christenson told the . “But unfortunately, many of those persons advertising their services are unqualified and unlicensed.”
In California, anyone who offers to do construction work valued at more than $500 in materials and/or labor must have a state contractor license.
When the suspects came to the sting house, their estimates were well over the $500 threshold – anywhere from a few thousand dollars to almost $8,000. The bidders were told they had violated state law and were given misdemeanor citations to appear in court.
In the end, 13 contractors were arrested in the sting. Seven of the individuals charged were Napa residents, while others were from Richmond, Clearlake and Gilroy. All 13 people were accused of contracting without a state license.
Penalties for a first conviction may include up to six months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. Subsequent violations can result in more severe punishment.
Six of the defendants in the sting operation were also charged with illegal advertising for failing to state in ads that they are unlicensed.
A fight broke out between two lawn care companies just before 8 a.m. on Sept. 1 at Douglas and Co. in Springfield, Tennessee.
Landscape company owner Billy Brown Jr., 52, got in an argument with a former employee, Larry Owens, whom Brown had fired two days before.
According to Robertson County Circuit Court documents, as many as 15 people were involved in the fight.
“This guy was threatening the employees and my dad,” Brown’s daughter, Danielle Bishop, told . “That morning, he walked up to my dad and spit in his face. That’s a matter of disrespect and any person in that position would fight back.”
Brown’s employees tried to break up the fight, and witnesses say that another landscaping company’s employee, Ryan Thompson, was knocked down and kicked by five of Brown’s employees.
Bishop, however, told the Tennessee newspaper a different story. She says Thompson’s boss had fallen on him during the fight and was the cause of his injuries. Thompson suffered a broken ankle, two broken ribs and contusions to his head and was taken to an area hospital for treatment.
When the fighting stopped, everyone went their separate ways.
“They were unaware that the guy who was hurt was even hurt,” Bishop said. “It’s a big mess, and it’s not fair that the county is going after my dad and his crew but not the other people involved.”
Robertson County Sheriff’s deputies caught up with Brown and his crew and arrested them on a charge of aggravated assault.
Brown, Joel Guzman, William Bell, DeAngelo Bell, Andrecus Dickerson and Rosa Cerda were all booked on $15,000 bonds and have since been released.
The latest incident was not Brown’s first run-in with the police. In June, he was accused of firing a gun at two teenagers who were former employees. The teens had gone to Brown’s house to pick up their final paychecks, and Brown pointed a gun at them. According to reports, as they started to leave, he fired a shot into the ground near them.