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Wildland Fire Quickly Contained in Downtown Novato

Homeless encampment found at location of fire on grassy hillside just west of the neighborhood off Seventh Street and just east of a subdivision off Simmons Lane.

A hillside fire in a downtown Novato neighborhood burned about five acres Wednesday morning before fire crews doused flames and contained it well short of homes nearby, fire officials said.

The single-alarm fire, reported at 11:08 a.m., was in a grassy and oak woodland area between Seventh Street in the Old Town area and Benton Lane in a subdivision off Simmons Lane, Deputy Chief Eric Nickel said. Battalion Chief Jeff Veliquette later said the fire charred about five acres about 1,000 feet from the nearest residential backyard.

There was a homeless encampment on the hill that burned, Nickel said. Firefighters found some personal belongings in an area along the ridge that may be connected to the fire, Veliquette said.

Several homes on Benton were the closest to the fire, but off-road fire trucks were pulled between them and the fire, Nickel said. There was no property damage or injuries reported.

"Crews are working hard to get it from the bottom (of the hill) and also from the top," he said at about 11:30 a.m., right when the fire was declared contained. "They are doing structure protection, but it won't get to the homes at this point."

Veliquette said crews would monitor the area Wednesday afternoon, clearing away dead trees and brush and watching for hot spots.
Five engines and 20 personnel responded to the blaze, and Novato police helped with the investigation into the fire's cause.

Smoke blew west toward the San Marin neighborhood, according to emergency radio broadcasts. Nickel said it was lucky there were not high winds Wednesday and that the fire didn't take place during the hottest part of the day.

"The threat today would be a high-danger day, but it's not extreme," he said. "It's still late in the summer and it's dangerous because of the dryness of the vegetation."

— Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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Kandi Blomquist August 29, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Novato Fire Fighters Rock~!!! Your quick response and exceleent skills make our city proud! Thank you!
Mary August 29, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Yes, Thank you NFD and NPD for being our daily heroes.
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) August 29, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Thanks for the photos, Sue and Ronit!

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