Timber fire spotted from across the Eel River by volunteer Laytonville firefighter

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Fire crews made quick work of a Saturday night wildfire that broke out in a remote forest area outside the Mendocino County community of Laytonville, in no small part because a volunteer firefighter doing ranch work several miles away noticed smoke emerging from trees across the Eel River canyon, fire officials said.

It took close to an hour for ground crews to reach the fire off Simmerly Ranch Road near Iron Peak, but Cal Fire air tankers loaded with flame retardant had just enough flight time before dark to douse the area and slow the fire’s growth, Cal Fire Engineer Anthony Massucco said.

Falling temperatures and rising humidity also helped subdue the 7:50 p.m. blaze, as did the residual moisture below the tree canopy, Laytonville Fire Chief Jim Little said.

He said fire crews were able to pump water from a pond on the property to the fire about 200 yards off the road. Two hand crews and at least one bulldozer helped put lines around the fire, Massucco said.

The fire burned about 1½ acres of timberland adjacent to a marijuana-farming operation with clear evidence of recent activity and human traffic, Little said.

“It’s pretty remote, but there’s a lot of isolated residents and that sort of thing,” Little said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Massucco said.

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