Crews rescue dog from Santa Rosa home destroyed by fire

The fire marshal said the blaze was started as result of the improper disposal of rags used to stain the front deck.|

A house in Santa Rosa had about $500,000 in damage Wednesday afternoon following a fire officials believe started because of improperly discarded rags that had been used to stain a deck.

The fire, which displaced three residents and a dog, was first reported at 4 p.m. as a deck on fire in the front of the house, according to Paul Lowenthal, Santa Rosa Fire Department division chief fire marshal.

*Structure Fire - Happy Valley Road* Shortly after 4 o’clock this afternoon Santa Rosa firefighters responded to multiple reports of a structure fire in the 1800 block of Happy Valley Road. Multiple Engines are at scene. This post will be updated as information becomes available. Update 4:47pm - Fire is under control. The fire primarily involved the structure with minimal spread to the vegetation around the home. 5 Engines, 2 Wildland Engines (1 from CAL FIRE), 1 Ladder Truck, 1 Battalion Chief, and 2 Fire Investigators assigned. GENERAL STORY: The Santa Rosa Fire Department received several calls for a home with a deck on fire on Happy Valley Rd. The first unit arrived in under seven minutes and found a four story home with a large amount of fire on the front deck, fire extending into the living area of the home, and into the attic. The fire quickly extended into the street level floor of the home but did not reach the floors that were below grade. Crews placed hose streams on the exterior of the home and the adjacent trees and vegetation and were able to prevent it from spreading to the wildland areas surrounding the house. Firefighters also entered the building to fight the fire from the interior and search for occupants. They rescued a dog that was in its kennel and brought it outside to the owners. No other occupants were found. The fire was brought under control in 30 minutes. All floors and rooms of the home had smoke and water damage. The fire was caused by oil soaked rags that had not been properly discarded. Damage to the home and its contents is estimated to be $500,000. The occupants all escaped without injury. Please remember to properly discard rags and other materials that are used with oil based stains and wood treatments.

Posted by City of Santa Rosa Fire Department on Wednesday, June 1, 2022

“The fire spread from the deck into the home and also involved some of the vegetation immediately around the home,” he said. “It was larger than a response that we would typically have with a normal house fire. That was because of the amount of fire and the threat to the wildland.”

The fire at the four-story home built on a hillside was brought under control at about 4:47 p.m., Lowenthal said. The home is located in Santa Rosa’s designated wildland-urban interface.

“We had five engines, one ladder truck, two wildland engines (one from Cal Fire), a battalion chief and two fire investigators,” he said.

Two engines, a ladder truck and a battalion chief were still there checking for spot fires at 6:28 p.m.

For the proper disposal of oily rags, the National Fire Protection Agency recommends: “Never leave cleaning rags in a pile. At the end of the day, take the rags outside to dry. Hang the rags outside or spread them on the ground. Weigh them down. Do this so they do not blow away. Keep them away from buildings. Put dried rags in a metal container. Make sure the cover is tight. Fill the container with a water and detergent solution. This will break down the oils.”

You can reach Staff Writer Kathleen Coates at or 707-521-5209.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:
  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.