PHOTOS: McKinleyville home with ‘increasing squatter activity’ heavily damaged by late night fire

  • A late-night fire damaged a vacant McKinleyville home. (Arcata Fire District — Contributed)

  • A late-night fire damaged a vacant McKinleyville home. (Arcata Fire District — Contributed)

  • A late-night fire damaged a vacant McKinleyville home. (Arcata Fire District — Contributed)

  • A late-night fire damaged a vacant McKinleyville home. (Arcata Fire District — Contributed)

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A single-story home was heavily damaged in a late-night fire Wednesday.

The home was vacant, neighbors said, but “increasing squatter activity” was noticed in recent months.

The investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing.

The following is a press release from the Arcata Fire District:

October 16, 2019, at 11:36 PM Arcata Fire District responded to a residential structure fire at 1533 Whitmire Ave, McKinleyville. Initial 911 calls reported fire in a mobile home. Units first arriving at scene found heavy fire in the garage and interior of a single story residential home with flames threatening to ignite adjacent homes and declared a working structure fire.  With significant heat and flames impinging on the homes on either side, firefighting efforts were focused on preventing the spread before concentrating on the main fire.

As the exposure structures were protected, crews were able to begin interior offensive operations.  Initial fire knock down took 18 minutes and full extinguishment approximately two hours. Neighbors report that the house has been vacant with increasing squatter activity for the last few months.

Initial investigation indicates the fire’s area of origin is in the garage or in the back of the house.  Significant fire damage occurred in those areas with heavy heat and smoke throughout the first floor. The investigation will continue today.

Arcata Fire District responded three engines, one Battalion Chief, the Fire Chief, three Volunteer Firefighters and the Volunteer Logistics unit for 13 personnel.  Other agencies at scene were Humboldt County Sheriff’s office, CalFire, Fieldbrook Fire, Blue Lake Fire, Westhaven Fire. Humboldt Bay Fire provided district coverage while Arcata units were committed to the fire scene.  Damage to the structure and contents is estimated at $197,000.

Arcata Fire District would like to thank our neighboring fire agencies for supplying resources as this emergency evolved.  The interoperability of State and Local agencies to back up and support each other is an important part of the Humboldt County fire service.  We would also like remind everyone that as winter approaches extra vigilance with fire safety is always needed.

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