Land Owner Near the Shimmins Fire North of Willits Says She Found a Gas Can and a Neighbor Saw a Suspicious Vehicle
According to a post last night by Whitney Snidow, a resident of Shimmins Ridge Road, “Some ASSHOLE in a reddish/burgundy 4 door SUV just threw a lit gas can out of his car on Shimmins Ridge Road!” Snidow told us later that she was coming home from her job as a nurse when she saw smoke. Soon after she saw a neighbor “throwing dirt on the fire with a cup.” Later, he left and came back with a shovel to fight the fire.
Snidow said she jumped in to help. “I had a 5 gallon bucket and I started scooping dirt,” she explained. She saw a tall plastic container that rural residents often use for carrying gas on fire. She began throwing dirt on it. “Doing this prevented the gas can from melting [completely],” she said. “I wanted to keep it as evidence [for the inspector.]”
Snidow said that she and the neighbor were right in the thick of the fire fighting it. “I had to stop it,” she said. “My house and chickens were close…[A] helicopter [dropped] a load of water on our heads!”
Her neighbor told her that he had seen a reddish/burgundy 4-door SUV leaving the area fast right before the fire. This, he told her was a similar description to that of the vehicle seen leaving a series of fires on Hwy 101 between Bell Springs Road and Piercy on August 27.
There the vehicle was described as possibly a tan Iszuzu Trooper 4-door SUV.
Snidow said her neighbor believed the driver of the SUV seen yesterday was a man with short hair.
“We are aware of that report and it is part of [the] investigation,” said Tricia Austin, Public Information Officer for the Mendocino Cal Fire unit who explained that there were three fires yesterday north of Willits. Two were in Cal Fire’s area of responsibility and one was in Covelo Fire’s. She said that the report of the Shimmins Fire came in about 6:40 p.m. Soon after another fire was reported out Hwy
169 162, and then a third fire was reported in Covelo Fire’s response area.
The Shimmins Fire burned 10 acres and still has crews and equipment “reinforcing containment lines” though forward progress was stopped last night, she said. The second fire, the Rios Incident, reached one acre and is now out, she said.
The Covelo fire was small and quickly extinguished, according to scanner reports last night.
Austin said that the investigator would be interviewing witnesses but that she doesn’t know if the series of fires last night and on August 27 are connected nor could she confirm they were arson.