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Fire in Downtown Boonville

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.


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)


  1. Joe December 5, 2019

    So close to the fire station too. I hope we get to hear the whole story about how this fire call went down.

  2. Frank D Hartzell December 6, 2019

    Fantastic coverage of this sad event. I always loved stopping at Pic N Pay, a fine and friendly market with unique treats. The conventional media didn’t even have the name of Lizbby’s or have any detail. Awesome photos tell the story. wow. Hoping for the best for the displaced lives and dreams on this rainy next day

  3. K. Rudin, trombone 2 December 6, 2019

    Curiouser & Curiouser!
    Wednesday night ca. 10 pm., following rehearsal of the BOONVILLE BIG BAND, three bandmembers stopped at Pic-n-Pay market for supplies for the drive back to the coast & noticed a rather large collection of FIRE TRUCKS & VFD personnel had deployed ca. 2 blocks NORTH of the area of Thursday’s fire. We did not stop or inquire and NO smoke or flames were present. The large fire dept. presence (lights flashing) was certainly curious. Today’s news of the tragic Pic-n-Pay/Lizzby’s fire compounds that confusion. What was going on?
    ps ~ The Big Band is planning to play 2+ hours of cool, tasteful, danceable jazz tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 7) at Lauren’s Cafe` starting at 9pm. IF THE RIVER DON’T RISE! We’ll do what we can to raise spirits in the face of this tragedy!

  4. Fal Allen December 6, 2019

    first on Wednesday they were fighting a chimney fire at a Boonville residence, and then the following day they were at an unrelated fire downtown that started at a different residence.

  5. Rixanne December 7, 2019

    Too bad it was this structure and not the Ricard building

  6. Jaye December 7, 2019

    Why hasn’t it been mentioned that the old Boonville Lodge (now Lizbby’s) was just destroyed? The Lodge was the historical (and drinking) center of the valley for decades. The outrageous behavior was legendary (I remember when someone lit the end of a redwood log on fire, opened the door and drove it into the bar).

    Someone needs to acknowlege the history of that building before Boonville lost its “loggers and buckers” swagger and became the same as every other boring, winery slogged place.

    • Mark Scaramella December 7, 2019

      Good Point, Jaye. But the Lodge that you are describing was gone years ago. The last people to operate it as an old-fashioned bar were Marcia Martinez and Shelly Scaramella when they operated it as “The Boonville Saloon.” But the Saloon closed around 2012.

  7. Jaye December 7, 2019

    I’m speaking to the historical Boonville Lodge. Doesn’t matter how many names it’s had since then. (A history of the building could include all its rebirths. ) A building central to the community at one time was just destroyed. It needs a memorial. Zack Anderson should write it.

  8. Andrew Scully December 7, 2019

    Shocking news. The Pic and Pay was a very common stop for me in B’ville, whether coming or going. A sure source of friendly service, and of course the current print edition of the AVA.

    Sad for the property damage, but thankful it appears no injury to anyone.

    Looks like a top – notch response by Chief Avila and the AV Fire Crew.

  9. Boont December 14, 2019

    How is it that downtown Boonville had to rely on a fire hydrant at the Fair Grounds? What was/is the emergency plan for structure fires in town?

  10. rick edwards February 11, 2020

    That sign on the roof was from the Original 1968 Arctic Circle Drive-In in Ukiah, when the Arctic closed in 1983 it was repurposed for this location in Boonville, the history of this location all gone, very sad.

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