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Cotati barn fire creates smoky skies

Fire destroyed a Cotati ranch barn and most of its contents Monday in what investigators suspect was an accidental blaze that originated with an air compressor.

The fire was likely burning unnoticed for some time within the barn at 7000 Hwy. 116 South, just west of Stony Point Road, said Mike Weihman, a battalion chief with Rancho Adobe fire.

As a flurry of calls came in to emergency dispatchers at 3:43 p.m., firefighters leaving the station could see a large column of smoke rising in the sky, a sign of a large fire, Weihman said.

Firefighters from seven agencies worked together in a defensive firefight aimed at keeping the fire from spreading to a home about 75 feet from the barn. Weihman said it was too dangerous for crews to enter the barn.

β€œThe fire was so large it scorched a redwood tree right outside the house,” he said.

The fire was extinguished by about 5:40 p.m.

Weihman said firefighters saved some equipment in the barn but could not save the structure, which was only about five years old. No people or livestock were injured, he said. Two vehicles were destroyed.

Smoke from the fire traveled far, reportedly blowing several miles northeast to Bennett Valley in Santa Rosa.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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