California Arson Grass Fire Threatened 100 Homes

A grass fire that was intentionally set, threatened about 100 homes in Terre Linda before a crew of firefighters, with the help of a helicopter, were able to control the blaze.


June 15--A fast-moving grass fire on a Terra Linda hillside that came dangerously close to 100 homes on Friday looks as if it started in more than one place, causing investigators to suspect that it may have been deliberately set, San Rafael Fire Chief Christopher Gray said Saturday.

Firefighters were still at the scene of the 16.5-acre blaze on Saturday afternoon, checking for hot spots around the Contempo Marin Mobile Home Park.

Investigators were continuing to interview witnesses and review other evidence of possible arson.

"It's suspicious," Gray said. "And that's terrible, given the weather conditions and the fuel."

Residents of about 50 homes on Channing Way and at Contempo Marin were evacuated after the blaze sent up plumes of white and brown smoke beginning at about noon on Friday.

More than 100 firefighters from San Rafael, Novato and Marin County fought the flames, aided by a Cal Fire helicopter and a plane dropping water and fire retardant. The fire was contained in about two hours.

"The work by firefighters was remarkable," Gray said. "No one was hurt and no structures were lost."

During the emotional moments when the fire threatened homes, one Contempo Marin resident, Mark Garrett, was detained by police after he allegedly threw a set of keys at a freelance video cameraman, Gray said, noting that an earlier report that he threw something at a firefighter was incorrect.

In this early fire season, the fire chief said the blaze is a wake-up call for residents to clear brush away from their homes.

"That's what saved some of the houses, that defensible space," he said, recommending that residents get information at readysetgomarin.org.

 

 

Copyright 2014 - The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.