Wednesday, October 4, 2023

20-Year-Old Ukiah Man Arrested for Starting the Hopkins Fire Which Burned ‘Numerous Structures, Threatened Hundreds of Lives’

Devin Johnson
Devin Johnson [Booking photo from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department website]

Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Captain Greg Van Patten announced at a public update this evening that law enforcement has arrested 20-year-old Devin Johnson for arson. Law enforcement accuses him of purposefully starting the Hopkins Fire, the blaze that destroyed multiple homes and has forced hundreds to evacuate. 

Captain Van Patten explained that shortly after the beginning of the fire at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 12, a Cal Fire Mendocino Unit Prevention Officer began an immediate investigation. The next day, a fire investigator from the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority assisted in the investigation as well as a Prevention Officer from the Cal Fire Humboldt Del Norte Unit.

Vegetation flares up as the Hopkins Fire spreads east [Picture by Matt LaFever]

Today, September 14, Captain Van Patten said investigators developed surveillance footage from a nearby business to where the Hopkins Fire started on Sunday. This footage, Captain Van Patten explained, depicted an unidentified adult male as being “the person, the reason, the cause of the Hopkins Fire”. 

Soon after, these fire investigators began canvassing the area for further clues, hints, and evidence. At 10:50 a.m., one of the fire investigators saw this unidentified male “just a matter of a few hundred yards from where we stand today.”

Firefighters working to control the flames of the Hopkins Fire on East Calpella Road

As per Captain Van Patten, investigators determined the unidentified to be Devin Johnson who is on active felony probation for an attempted robbery charge. As a result of the follow-up investigations, Mr. Johnson has been arrested and booked in the Mendocino County Jail. Johnson stands accused of aggravated arson of multiple structures, arson of an inhabited structure, and arson during a state of emergency. He is currently being held on a no-bail status.

Also, with due respect to the potential victim of the circumstances described, it must be stated that the charges contained in the booking log have not been proven in a court of law. In accordance with the legal principle of the presumption of innocence, any individual described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

- Advertisement -

The following  press release from the Cal Fire Mendocino Unit provides an overview of their investigation into the cause of the Hopkins Fire and the successful identification of the suspect:

On Tuesday, September 14, 2021, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Mendocino Unit investigators arrested an individual for arson (PC 451(c)). This individual is suspected to be responsible for starting the Hopkins Fire on Sunday, September 12, 2021, which burned numerous structures, threatened hundreds of lives, including response personnel, burned 257 acres, and damaged utilities and critical infrastructure.

A CAL FIRE officer with the assistance of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Ukiah Valley Fire Department and the Mendocino County Districts Attorney’s Office arrested the suspect today. The suspect was taken into custody and transported to the Mendocino County Jail.

“I am very proud of our law enforcement officer, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s Office for working together on this case,” said CAL FIRE MEU Unit Chief George Gonzalez. “Our communities are much safer after this arrest.”

As fire danger remains high across California, wildfires pose a major threat to life, property, and our state’s natural resources. CAL FIRE urges the public to be vigilant in their preparedness and be aware of suspicious activity when a fire does start. If you witness suspicious activity, the following steps should be followed:

  • Do not approach the individual or individuals engaging in the suspicious behavior, if safe to do so, note the description of the individual(s) including, location, gender, height, weight, clothing description, hair color and any other distinguishing characteristics such as tattoos. If a vehicle is involved in the suspicious activity, the following information can be helpful to investigator

The California Arson Hotline: 1-800-468-4408 The hotline takes anonymous reports of arson and offers rewards to those who provide information about a suspected arsonist. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Penal Code 451 PC – California Arson Laws http://www.shouselaw.com/arson.html.

Previous Coverage

- Advertisement -


  1. Why is he smirking, smiling? What makes people have such bizarre behavior? He is so young to be so twisted. A travesty for so many people’s lives. May justice be served.

  2. What’s racist about it? My families and two other friends homes were destroyed because of an idiot that gets never ending sympathy from ignorant people like you. It’s not about race. Wake the eff up.

  3. There’s plenty of evidence, i.e. facts supported by actual data, that arsonists are getting tossed in prison.

    Search this site alone and you will find several examples just from this year in Mendo.

    Unfounded politicized rhetoric may be typical but it is FALSE.

  4. Care less of the color of his hide, if he did the crime, he should do the time with complete payback on the damages he caused, an left in prison, until its paid back! Poor baby had a bad childhood? We can find help for you.

    • No one is forcing you to read the comments, nor do they reflect the views of the management, so why extend your distaste to them? 🤷🏻‍♂️

Join the Conversation

Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

Today's News


News from the Week