Russian River fire burns cabin, vehicles (w/video)

  • Cal Fire firefighters douse hot spots on Hillside Drive in Summerhome Park west of Forestville on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

Fire destroyed one structure, damaged five others and burned several vehicles Monday afternoon in a remote, wooded area west of Forestville along the Russian River.

One man suffered first- and second-degree burns when he tried to enter his burning residence, fire officials said. His name and condition weren’t available, but officials said he was taken to a hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries.

Witnesses reported an explosion like a propane tank bursting around 3:20 p.m., accompanied by a huge column of black smoke that could be seen or smelled as far away as Highway 101 in Windsor and Santa Rosa.

Forestville Fire


The cause of the fire was still being investigated late Monday, said Cal Fire Capt. Joe Fletcher. He said the fire didn’t appear to be started by a propane tank explosion although tanks may have vented during the fire.

The main structure involved was a cabin near Laurel Avenue at Summerhome Park, which has several vacation rental cabins and some year-round residences near the private Summerhome Beach.

Flames burned the cabin to the ground, Fletcher said, and damaged the others surrounding it on each side. Fire burned up the hillside and scorched about an acre of woodland.

He said it wasn’t clear which structures were lived in year-round and which were short-term vacation rentals.

“The house that burned down, the owner was on beach, and he tried to run inside,” said Fire Chief Steve Baxman of Monte Rio, one of many agencies that responded.

Firefighting crews arrived quickly but found it difficult to reach the remote property on the narrow, winding Summerhome Park Road.

“Emphasis on narrow, winding,” Fletcher said.

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