Mendocino County man suspected of shooting at firefighters battling Redwood Valley blaze



A Redwood Valley man aimed a gun at a Cal Fire engine crew parked at his property and fired shots in their direction, missing the crew but forcing them to abandon their work and flee, Mendocino County sheriff’s officials said.

The firefighters, a Fort Bragg engine team battling the blaze that killed 8 people two weeks ago in the Redwood Valley, reported the gunfire just after 12 a.m. Oct. 14 over emergency radio, sheriff’s officials said. The state fire agency’s local command ordered at least five engines in the area to halt all firefighting and seek safety at the Redwood Valley Fire Department station while deputies searched for the shooter, according to Cal Fire.

About six minutes later, a man called 911 “advising he’s the shooter and had some intruders in his yard,” according to sheriff’s dispatch audio. Heron apparently shouted at the firefighters before shooting, officials said.

Deputies arrested John Maxwell Heron, 73, on suspicion of felony negligent discharge of a firearm and misdemeanor obstruction of law enforcement, jail records show. Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Dygert said Heron resisted arrest when deputies contacted him at his home.

Heron was being held Thursday at the Mendocino County Jail in lieu of $15,000 bail.

The Redwood Valley fire started about 10:36 p.m. Oct. 8 in remote Potter Valley north of Highway 20. On Oct. 14, when the shooting incident occurred, some areas of the Redwood Valley, including Heron’s property on the 10,000 block of West Road near Kickapoo Lane, remained under a mandatory evacuation order. Heron had stayed.

The fire was at 34,000 acres that day and continued to threaten 8,000 structures. The Redwood Valley fire would eventually grow to 36,523 acres before firefighters gained an upper hand. Cal Fire declared full containment Thursday.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or On Twitter @jjpressdem. .