Arson investigation underway for Ukiah house fire

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A fire that destroyed a Ukiah home and damaged another last week is under investigation by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and Ukiah Valley Fire District as possible arson.

The North Oak Street house fire occurred about 9:40 p.m. July 18 and spread to a neighboring home when a gas line broke, creating more flames, Acting Ukiah Valley Fire Chief Jeff Adair said.

Firefighters found the resident sitting in the backyard, watching flames consume the home owned by his family. “We were concerned about him and escorted him out,” Adair said.

The man, who wasn’t identified, was placed on a temporary mental health hold, Interim Ukiah Police Chief Justin Wyatt said. His agency also is investigating the suspicious fire, which burned the home down to the studs and partially charred a bedroom and caused smoke and heat damage to the house next door.

Total damages are estimated at $350,000, Adair said.

A police sergeant on patrol spotted the fire and called for help, Wyatt said. Firefighters later called for a second alarm, getting additional help from Cal Fire, Hopland and Redwood Valley fire agencies.

The fire appears to have started outside the home, but there were no signs of electrical issues, smoking, or lightning, Adair said.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter@rossmannreport.

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