Arson caused the Marshall fire in Hoopa on Friday afternoon that encompassed about 5 acres and was fully extinguished by 10 p.m., according to Hoopa Wildland Fire Department Division Chief Ralph Brown on Saturday.
Officials from Cal Fire, the United States Forest Service, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, the Hoopa Tribal Police Department, the Bureau of Land Management, the California Highway Patrol, the Arcata Police Department, the Hoopa Volunteer Fire Department and Hoopa Wildland Fire Department responded to the fire that was reported around 3:30 p.m. on Friday at the north end of Marshall Lane around Squires Housing, which has about 15 home sites, according to Brown.
"I'd estimate about 50 residents were evacuated, and they returned to their homes around 9 p.m.," Brown said. "Two structures completely burned — a structure with three or four bedrooms and a mobile home. No one was present in either. In a day or so, we will be able to estimate the cost of damage to the property. Right now, I'd estimate it was $50,000, maybe higher. The Bureau of Indian Affairs investigators pinpointed that the cause was arson."
Brown said there were three engines from the U.S. Forest Service, one from Redwood National and State Parks, one from Cal Fire and two from the Hoopa Wildland Fire Department. Cal Fire supplied a helicopter and air attack, and there was one contract water tender and two from the U.S. Forest Service, according to Brown.
"It originally encompassed 3 acres, but the wind took an ember, flew it across the Highway 96 and started a 2-acre fire over there," Brown said.
Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Lt. Steve Knight said the sheriff had already directed the office staff to develop a policy to deal with just such an event.
"With the drought conditions this year, everyone's worse nightmare is to get a fire that takes off like this, and our policy puts multiple agencies into use whenever there's a sudden, potentially catastrophic event that poses an imminent threat," Knight said. "The fire rapidly escalated, was threatening property and then rapidly de-escalated. The Hoopa Wildland Fire Department and Hoopa Tribal Police Department requested immediate response to assist with evacuating homes. The incident commanders of the fire agencies are in charge, and we're there to assist with security and containment."
Brown said one resident had a flash burn on his cheek, but he was cleared by paramedics.
Jillian Singh can be reached at 441-0509.