2 People Injured, Five Dogs Die After Bee Swarm Flares up at Norco Home

A man was taken to the hospital and a woman sustained minor injuries in Norco Thursday after a bee colony on their property created a dangerous swarm and began stinging them and their dog, firefighters said.

A vector control official responds to the 1000 block of Parkridge Avenue in Norco, where two people and a dog were repeatedly stung by bees on Feb. 23, 2017. (Credit: Casper News)

A vector control official responds to the 1000 block of Parkridge Avenue in Norco, where two people and a dog were repeatedly stung by bees on Feb. 23, 2017. (Credit: Casper News)

Both individuals were treated for minor injuries following the incident, which was reported around 11:15 a.m. in the 1000 block of Parkridge Avenue, according to Riverside County Fire Battalion 4 Chief Scott Lane. An 8-year-old girl, the granddaughter of the property’s landlord, was also rescued from the home without injury, he said.

“Firefighters suited up in their protective bee hoods and turnouts, went inside the residence and retrieved an 8-year-old female who was reunited with her mother without injury or incident,” Lane said.

The fire crew had to perform abatement before they were able to enter the property due to the severity of the situation, according to Lane.

“Firefighters used hose lines with Class A foam to hose the hive to try to minimize the impact of the bees as we removed the girl,” he said, noting that the foam works by suffocating the bees and forcing them to the ground.

The property’s landlord, 69-year-old Marcus Garcia, was stung 40 times and transported to the hospital with minor injuries, Lane told KTLA. Resident Sinthia Sullivan also suffered minor injuries but declined transportation and instead sought veterinary treatment for her dog, who was stung more than 300 times, according to Norco Animal Control.

The 4-year-old North American hairless terrier, Evolve, had been outside with her four one-month-old puppies when the bees began attacking, Sullivan said.

“When I was on the phone I heard the dogs yelping, so I went outside and I saw them all attacking this dog,” she recalled. “Then they started attacking me, and there were thousands of them. There were so many of them that I couldn’t see, and they were all in my hair.”

Sullivan said she immediately grabbed a hose and began spraying herself and the dogs, but three of the four puppies died soon after being stung, and the fourth passed later in the evening.

First responders refused to transport Evolve so Sullivan flagged down a Good Samaritan who took her to Animal & Bird Veterinary Medical Center in Norco. Veterinarians attempted to save the dog, but the toxins had progressed too far and she too perished.

After firefighters cleared the patients from the property a private vector control company responded, located the bee hive in a tree trunk and quelled the colony, officials said.

“They have sprayed the tree for the bees and sealed it with foam,” Lane said. “Within the next 24 to 72 hours the remaining bees will leave and the property will be deemed safe.”

Ultimately 14 Riverside County firefighters were involved in the hive knockdown, with the assistance of Corona Fire Department.

Bees traditionally agitate into a swarm when a queen bee leaves a colony, prompting thousands of worker bees to expel themselves along with her, usually in the spring. As the bees are primarily interested in finding a new home for their queen, they tend to not be aggressive toward humans unless threatened by human intrusions such as swatting, according to the Scientific American.

KTLA’s Rick Chambers contributed to this article.