Yesterday evening a fire that began in vegetation quickly consumed a modular building located near Mendocino County’s Administration Buildings at 501 Low Gap Road.
Ukiah Valley Fire Authority Battalion Chief Justin Buckingham told us he is investigating the cause of the fire and has determined two potential causes: the flames being sparked by a cigarette or an intentional act of arson.
Battalion Chief Buckingham made note the fire began in vegetation that borders the deck and building that subsequently burned. It stands to reason, he said, that someone could have smoked a cigarette on the deck or nearby, flicked it into the vegetation, and the fire could have grown from there.
Battalion Chief Buckingham explained UVFA personnel were initially dispatched to reports of a vegetation fire and while on route dispatch learned the fire had spread to the deck of the adjoining building which he described as two modular buildings attached to each other.
One side of the modular duplex was Mendocino County Probation Department’s Daily Reporting Center and the other seemed to be some sort of storage area, Battalion Chief Buckingham explained.
When the fire began, there reportedly was an employee working inside the Daily Reporting Center who was informed of the danger by a passerby and then fled.
Two fire engines arrived on scene and quickly knocked back the flames. Battalion Chief Buckingham said the smaller size of the modular buildings added to the controllability of the flames. Firefighters were able to deploy multiple lines and get close to the fire putting water through the buildings’ windows expediting the extinguishing of the flames.
Multiple bystanders were reported in the area of the fire and Chief Buckingham said with the help of deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office the nearby roadways were shut down.
Addressing members of the public interested in watching these sort of events, Battalion Chief Buckingham asked bystanders practice safety and caution making sure to not be on the same side of the road as the fire. “We don’t want to worry about you getting injured,” he said. He also cautioned bystanders to be aware of nearby vehicles because drivers are often distracted watching the incident.
Battalion Chief Buckingham asks the public to remember conditions are ripe for fires currently and to be careful with cigarettes or any sort of work outdoors that could light a spark.