Investigators looking into several suspicious fires in the North Bay

- In the North Bay, three recent vegetation fires are raising concern, especially as temperatures begin climbing again this week.

Two of the fires were located near each other, and only hours apart. All are considered suspicious, and all threatened homes or businesses. 

"Anything could go up, so it's not good," Santa Rosa resident Deja Reihl told KTVU, at her doorstep on Streamside Drive, not far from Highway 12.

Reihl has her own suspicions about what ignited the grass alongside a footpath in open space.

"We heard fireworks about 15 minutes before the fire occurred," she declared.

Fire officials say no fireworks debris was found in the Saturday afternoon fire that burned about 1/3 acre.

"Definitely these fires are a concern of ours and something we're paying attention to," Assistant Santa Rosa Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal told KTVU.

"And on that first fire, we did have a report that someone was seen walking away from it very quickly, when it was first spotted."

The footpath runs for a little over a mile, parallel to Highway 12, alongside the Santa Rosa Creek.

Just past midnight Sunday, crews were called back to almost the same spot, for another fire, about 1/4 acre, a few hundred feet from the first.

"We had two really strange fires essentially, and then it stopped for now. So we're figuring out what our next steps will be based on any activity that occurs," elaborated Lowenthal.

On Beverly Way, about 15 minutes across town, 911 calls also flooded in Saturday, just before 6 AM.

In open space behind the former county mental health complex, a makeshift camp caught fire,  It was deep in the brush and difficult for engines to access and fire crews to pull hoses into.    

"Likely a homeless encampment, " said Santa Rose Fire Division Chief Keith Flood, " and we found cooking materials, propane, butane, and a stove that was still burning underneath the tree."

Those who had been in the camp fled. Fire danger among homeless campers is an ongoing danger in many communities, never more than when neighborhoods are in close proximity.

"That could kill somebody, that could cause damage to homes, hurt someone, " resident Nelson Lindsley told KTVU, "so there should be some kind of oversight, people going back there and breaking up those camps."

The overnight fire along the Highway 12 trail burned the back fence of the Mission Ace Lumber & Hardware store.

It might have taken more, except conditions were calm and cool, and the dry grass had been recently mowed.
"The last thing we need is an arsonist," emphasized Lowenthal. "We experienced that a few years ago. We had someone who was lighting a lot of our vacant lots on fire."

The path lets out into the Mission Plaza Shopping Center, where it would be easy for someone to blend in.
Nearby residents hope the firebug is finished.

"We use the path all the time, so for it to be that close is really scary, " admitted Reihl, " and because I have children in the house, we're leery about what goes on".

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