Downed power line starts brush fire in Novato, causes panic at RV park

A downed power line caused a brush fire in Novato. August 19, 2022.

Marion Coleman said he was heating up a plate of spaghetti in his RV at the Novato RV Park on Armstrong Avenue when the power went out and he saw people running. 

"I ran out there and that’s when I see a fire on the other side of the street," said Coleman. "And there was a whole bunch of cars parked here and people were running, trying to get their cars out of the way and stuff like that."

A brush fire was burning on the other side of the fence near Highway 101. Coleman made sure he had all his pets accounted for in case he had to get out of there.

"You end up realizing it can happen in a moment’s notice where you have to leave everything," said Coleman.

Fire officials say a downed power line started a fire on both sides of Highway 101 near Atherton Avenue.

"Upon our arrival we found a half acre of grass and brush actively burning. We closed both the north and southbound ramps to highway 101," said Battalion Chief Jeff Whittet.

Whittet said they’re investigating if a Caltrans crane that was working on a project may have hit the lines.

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The California Highway Patrol issued a traffic alert, and SMART trains were halted because hose lines were laid over the railroad tracks.

Whittet said, "Due to some restriction on our water supply, we ran a hose line directly across  the SMART train tracks there which means they have to stop service. So their service was stopped for a couple of hours."

No structures were damaged. Pacific Gas & Electric crews arrived to repair the line and restore power to the area.