Two men who tried to flee sheriff's detectives by driving a Ford Mustang into a pasture apparently sparked a large vegetation fire in southwest Santa Rosa Wednesday afternoon.
The 2:15 p.m. fire off Todd Road quickly spread, growing to 82 acres and threatening nearby homes and livestock.
"It burned right up to two or three different structures," Santa Rosa Deputy Fire Chief Tony Gossner said. "It was very close."
Todd Road Brush Fire
Stoked by warm temperatures and steady breezes, the blaze sent smoke over Roseland and downtown Santa Rosa before firefighters aided by air support brought it under control.
"It was just a fast moving, flatland grass fire and it's hard to catch those," Gossner said.
The flames raced across much of the 80-acre ranch owned by the Poma family, threatening about 40 head of cattle and other animals in the path of the flames.
"We literally got 50 head of animals out of here in about 20 minutes," said Hailey Poma, 18. She described the rescue as family members chased down a wandering calf and firefighters put out hot spots in the pasture just a few feet from her family's barn.
The pursuit began about 2 p.m. when two Sonoma County Sheriff's detectives in an unmarked car heading north on Corby Avenue spotted a man on probation in the passenger seat of the Mustang heading the opposition direction, and turned around to pull the car over, sheriff's Lt. Steve Brown said.
But the Mustang took off, and the detectives followed it as the car headed south and onto Highway 101, Brown said. The Mustang then cut across the lanes and exited at Todd Road, headed west and took a left onto Primrose Avenue, a dead-end street, Brown said.
The Mustang drove to the end of the avenue and continued driving into a field.