Arson Suspect Arrested for Alleging Igniting Destructive Hopkins Fire – CBS San Francisco

CALPELLA (CBS SF) — A 20-year-old man from Ukiah was detained Wednesday after he was arrested for igniting the Hopkins Fire that destroyed several homes in the Black Oak Estates neighborhood of Calpella’s unincorporated Mendocino County community over the weekend.

Mendocino County Sheriff’s Captain Greg Van Patten said Devin Lamar Johnson was arrested Tuesday afternoon on suspicion of arson and was admitted to the Mendocino County Jail.

He said arson investigators were able to obtain surveillance footage from a business near where the fire started at 2pm on Sunday, leading them to identify Johnson as a suspect.

“This image identified an unidentified adult male as the person, cause and cause of the Hopkins Fire,” said Van Patten. “Fire investigators scoured the area for further clues and evidence. They reached out to detectives with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department… At 10:50 am this morning (Tuesday), one of the firefighters spotted the individual (on video) in downtown Calpella.”

After being detained and questioned, Johnson was taken into custody and charged with three counts of arson. Van Patten said Johnson is on probation for a robbery charge and is being held without bail.

Cal Fire Mendocino Unit Chief George Gonzalez said that as of Tuesday evening, the fire was 60% under control and remained on the 275-acre site. Dozens of local residents are still under evacuation orders.

“Even though we had a high degree of protection, we weren’t completely out of the woods,” Gonzalez said. “There are still many dangers, such as felled trees, hot spots, dangerous fumes and dangerous power poles,” he said.

The fire caught fire at around 2:15 p.m. in dry, dry vegetation in the Moore Street and Eastside Calpella Road area. He sprinted uphill, burning down homes in Black Oak Estates and Marina Drive as he made his way to the northwest shore of nearby Lake Mendocino.

Dozens of firefighters rushed to the scene and helicopters made an airborne landing. Van Patten said lawmakers also banged on doors to make sure local residents were warned and got out safely.

“It was a rapidly developing fire,” he said. “We went door to door. In some cases, they break into houses to make sure people aren’t inside because those houses were destroyed shortly after the fire.”

While officials are still assessing the damage, they said numerous structures were burned, including houses.

“We lost a lot of homes,” said Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall.

Kent Porter, a photographer from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, recorded numerous structures that were engulfed in flames along Marina Drive.


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