Deputy crashes car into Bodega Bay house during chase, sparking fire

A Sonoma County deputy's patrol car crashed into a Bodega Bay house during a high-speed pursuit Sunday, causing both the car and the house to burst into flames.

The deputy, whose name hasn't been released, was taken to a Santa Rosa hospital with moderate injuries but was expected to recover, Sonoma County Sheriff's Lt. John Molinari said.

About 4 a.m., the deputy was searching the Bodega Bay area for suspects in a string of recent thefts when he spotted a vehicle he believed was involved with the incidents, the Sheriff's Office reported.

As the deputy approached, the suspect vehicle sped away, reaching speeds of 90 to 100 mph, the sheriff's office said. During the pursuit, the deputy crashed into a house in the 600 block of Highway 1 near Smith Brothers Road.

He was able to get out of his car, and he and another deputy helped the occupants safely get out of the house. Shortly afterward, the patrol car caught fire and flames engulfed the house.

The people who were staying in the house, which was being used as a vacation rental, were uninjured, authorities said.

About 20 to 25 firefighters from the Bodega Bay, Gold Ridge and Occidental fire districts and Bodega and Valley Ford volunteer fire companies battled the blaze, which took about two to three hours to extinguish, said Bodega Bay Fire Capt. Lou Stoerzinger. The Coast Guard also assisted from the water.

Firefighters were unable to do a complete damage assessment Sunday because the structure was too unstable, Stoerzinger said.

“The house itself is pretty much a total loss,” he said.

Highway 1 was closed in both directions for several hours.

The CHP is investigating the cause of the crash. The Sheriff's Office still is investigating the thefts, which involve stolen equipment of some kind, Molinari said.

No suspects have been arrested in connection with the thefts or the pursuit, Molinari said late Sunday afternoon.

“We have good, solid leads,” he said. “I'm hopeful.”

You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or On Twitter @danarts. You can reach Staff Writer J.D. Morris at 707-521-5337 or On Twitter @thejdmorris.

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