State investigators have determined an improperly installed electric livestock fence sparked the massive wildfire that has burned for nearly two weeks across more than 140 square miles in Yolo and Napa counties, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate at one point and becoming California’s largest wildland blaze this year.
Cal Fire said Wednesday it cited the responsible party for the fence under a state law that governs fire damage to private property owned by another party. The agency provided few other details, referring questions to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, which is still reviewing the case.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven identified the person cited by Cal Fire as Anthony Edward Darosa, a 46-year-old Woodland resident.
Darosa has a court date scheduled for July 31, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be charged with anything then, Raven said.
“We have to review the case and decide whether or not we are going to be charging him,” Raven said. “We may charge him with nothing. We may charge him with that count. We may charge him with different counts.”
If convicted of the misdemeanor count for which he was cited, Darosa could face a maximum of one year in county jail, according to Raven. The district attorney’s office also could decide to pursue criminal charges.
Attempts to reach Darosa on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
The County fire has consumed 90,288 acres in Yolo and Napa counties, destroyed 20 structures and damaged three since it ignited June 30 along Highway 16 near the rural community of Guinda. The fire was 89 percent contained Wednesday.
Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean couldn’t say exactly how investigators determined the cause so quickly, as compared to other recent blazes, or what led them to conclude the electric fence sparked the blaze.
“Through their investigation process, they were able to determine the cause relatively quickly,” he said. “This goes to show you that there’s no set time frames.”
Cal Fire hopes to have the County fire fully contained by today.
Crews were attacking “islands” of fire inside the northern portion of the blaze, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Josh Janssen said Wednesday. They also were mopping up hot spots and creating a larger buffer zone, he said.
Meanwhile, Lake County residents who’ve endured the now fully contained Pawnee fire were rattled by another 80-acre fire that broke out Monday afternoon near Spring Valley Road and New Long Valley Road. The fire moved into the Pawnee burn scar but was fully contained by Wednesday evening. No evacuations were ordered, and no structures were damaged.
You can reach Staff Writer J.D. Morris at 707-521-5337 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @thejdmorris. You can reach Staff Writer Hannah Beausang at 707-521-5214 or email@example.com. On Twitter @hannahbeausang.