Two houses burned in Graton fire exercise

  • Two homes in Graton were burned Saturday by firefighters from Occidental, Forestville, Gold Ridge and Graton fire districts. (Dane Jasper)

Two houses on property that Graton activist John Jenkel has lost to winemaker Paul Hobbs in a civil dispute were burned by firefighters Saturday during a training exercise.

“We don't get to train on that many structure fires, it is a good opportunity for training,” said Occidental fire Capt. Dennis Sandberg. “The available houses are few and far between, on average once every year or year and a half.”

The homes were burned between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. by firefighters from Occidental, Forestville, Gold Ridge and Graton. The property is located in the Graton district.

Hobbs acquired the property, which borders Highway 116, as part of a Sonoma County civil judgment of $350,000 against Jenkel that stems from a 2006 dispute between Hobbs and Jenkel.

Fire officials said that Hobbs gave them permission to use the structures in a training drill.

“We try and get the word out to the community as much as possible that if there is a home to demolish, we would love to use it for training,” Graton fire Deputy Chief Bill Bullard said. “It is an opportunity you can't duplicate in any type of training.”

-- Bob Norberg

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