Firefighters rushed to extinguish an 82-acre vegetation fire Wednesday in unincorporated Sonoma County southwest of Santa Rosa that started when a vehicle pursued by Sonoma County sheriff's detectives stalled and caught fire in a field.
The fire in the field at the end of Primrose Avenue spread east through pastureland toward U.S. Highway 101, Central Fire Authority Battalion Chief Matt Gustafson said.
Fire crews from several agencies kept the blaze away from residences and outbuildings, helped move cattle to safety, washed away fire retardant dropped by aircraft off of houses and mended fences that afternoon, Gustafson said.
The fire was out, except for some hot spots, by 4 p.m., Gustafson said.
Sheriff's Lt. Steve Brown said detectives in an unmarked vehicle traveling north on Corby Avenue saw a known probationer in a Ford Mustang heading south on Corby Avenue around 2 p.m.
The driver of the Mustang fled when the detectives made a U-turn in pursuit. The Mustang drove south on U.S. Highway 101 and abruptly exited at Todd Road, Brown said. The Mustang drove west on Todd Road then south on Primrose Avenue, which dead-ends at a field, Brown said.
When the Mustang stalled and caught fire in the field, the two occupants in the car ran with the deputies in pursuit, Brown said.
Detectives caught 38-year-old Jesse James Lee of Rohnert Park and his passenger 24-year-old Robert Lee Orr of Santa Rosa, Brown said.
Lee was arrested for arson, evading police, resisting arrest and a violation of probation. Lee also had two misdemeanor warrants and one felony warrants for his arrest, Brown said.
Orr was arrested for resisting arrest, arson and a violation of probation. Both were booked in the Sonoma County jail.
Firefighters from Cal Fire, Gold Ridge, Rincon Valley and Central Fire responded to the vegetation fire.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.