Arson Suspect Arrested For Allegedly Igniting Destructive Hopkins Fire – CBS San Francisco

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CALPELLA (CBS SF) — A 20-year-old Ukiah man was in custody Wednesday after his arrest for igniting the Hopkins Fire, which destroyed several homes in the Black Oak Estates neighborhood of the unincorporated Mendocino County community of Calpella over the weekend.

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

He said arson investigators were able to obtain surveillance footage from a business near where the blaze began at 2 p.m. Sunday and it led to them identifying Johnson as a suspect.

“This footage identified an unidentified adult male as being the person, the reason, the cause, of the Hopkins Fire,” Van Patten said. “The fire investigators canvased the area for further clues and evidence. They reached out to detectives with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department… It was 10:50 a.m. this morning (Tuesday) that one of the fire investigators saw the individual (on the video) in downtown Calpella.”

After being detained and questioned, Johnson was taken into custody and booked on three separate arson charges. Van Patten said Johnson was probation for a robbery charge and was being held on a no bail status.

Cal Fire Mendocino Unit Chief George Gonzalez said as of Tuesday evening the fire was 60% contained and remained at 275 acres. Dozens of local residents still remain under evacuation orders.

“We are not out of the woods completely although we have high containment,” Gonzalez said. “There are still many dangers out there such as fallen trees, hot spots, hazardous smoke and dangerous power poles.”

The fire ignited around 2:15 p.m. in the tinder-dry vegetation in the area of Moore Street and Eastside Calpella Road. It quickly raced uphill, burning homes in the Black Oak Estates and along Marina Drive as it made it way to the northwest shore of nearby Lake Mendocino.

Dozens of firefighters raced to the scene and helicopters made air drops. Van Patten said deputies also pounded on doors to make sure local residents were alerted and got out safely.

“This was a rapidly evolving fire,” he said. “We went door to door. In some cases actually entering houses to make sure people weren’t in because soon after those homes were destroyed by the fire.”

While officials were still assessing the damage, they said several structures had burned including homes.

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

Kent Porter, a photographer with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, recorded multiple structures engulfed in flames along Marina Drive.

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