A fire that began in a small home next door to Anderson Valley Market blew up into a fast-moving blaze that burned two more small homes, Lizzby's Restaurant and the Pic 'N Pay Market.
The fire was stoked by a stiff 10-15 mph wind blowing out of the southeast toward the northwest. The flames then jumped from the first neighboring structure onto the roof of Lizzby’s Mexican restaurant and the Pic-N-Pay convenience store (one building) as flames jumped into the damp sky above.
Early reports had it that the occupants of all three buildings had escaped and were unharmed, sitting on the curb across the street from the fire watching their homes go up in flames.
Rain drops began to fall about an hour later, but by then all three buildings were on fire with the first residence appearing to be all but destroyed and the roof of the second residence spewing flame. A small army of fire equipment arrived to attempt to contain the fire to the three burned buildings by 2pm. The large number of fire engines parked on Highway 128 to battle the blaze created a significant traffic blockage leaving stranded drivers confused about what to do. Downwind neighbors at Tom Town and the Farrer Building were worried that the flames might jump off the Pic-N-Pay roof onto the neighboring eucalyptus trees and make it even worse. But by mid-afternoon firefighters appeared to be making progress on the roof fire over Pic-N-Pay.
Update 3pm: The fire in the roof over Pic-N-Pay was still burning around 3pm as the sign over the building collapsed onto the roof threatening the power and utility pole which services the north end of Boonville. If that pole goes, we’ll be off-line here for a while.
Update: 3:30pm. It now looks like all three buildings will be a total loss — two rental residences, Lizbby’s restaurant (which was closed last week reportedly for propane equipment problems), the recently reopened bar, and Pic-N-Pay itself which looks gutted due to internal flames coming down from the roof. There are other structures behind the three buildings the condition of which is unknown at this time. The buildings were all very old with flammable old-growth redwood slab framing dating back before WW2.
FIRE IN MENDOCINO COUNTY TOWN SPREADS TO HOMES, BUSINESSES
by Chantelle Lee
A fire that started in an apartment in downtown Boonville spread to neighboring homes and businesses Thursday afternoon, prompting road closures and some evacuations.
The fire started after 1 p.m. in a small apartment complex and spread to Pic N Pay, a market along Highway 128, and the nearby Mexican restaurant Lizbbys, said Joy Andrews, the business manager for the Anderson Valley Fire Department, who witnessed the fire and was not speaking on behalf of the department. By 3:40 p.m., the fire was still actively burning in the area, though Andrews said the fire was no longer spreading to nearby buildings.
The residents of the apartment were home at the time the fire started, but no one was injured, Andrews said.
Authorities evacuated the immediate area and closed Highway 128, the main road through town, in both directions. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that the road may be closed until around 8 p.m. because of firefighting efforts.
Firefighters from the Anderson Valley Fire Department and Cal Fire were tackling the blaze, as well as some other volunteer fire departments in the area, Andrews said.
(courtesy The Press Democrat)