Stolen car, man burned near site of American Canyon fire

Flames driven by high winds prompted an evacuation warning in Napa County Monday night.

Napa County Sheriff Oscar Ortiz told KTVU that deputies arriving at the scene found a stolen car burning and detained a 26-year-old man who was nearby and had burn injuries.

By Monday night, the fire north of American Canyon High School and Newell Drive had spread to 150 acres and was 50% contained.

"The fire was really close over here. It was really close by," said Heinrick Devera of American Canyon. "We saw the firefighters. They were doing their sweep of the fire right by the high school."

Firefighters got the call about 6 p.m. and issued an evacuation warning about 6:45 p.m. Monday.

Billowing smoke from the flames could be seen from a PG&E camera. The high winds pushed the fire near American Canyon High School.

"The area where fire was reported to start was very close to several structures including American Canyon High School," said Erick Hernandez, a CalFire Napa County Fire spokesman. "Fire can travel two to three football fields in less than a minute. That's why it was important to issue that evacuation warning."

CalFire says half of American Canyon was potentially in danger, with flames coming within a mile of structures.

The smell of smoke from the fire was reported all the way to Oakland.

CalFire crews said fortunately, the wind shifted, driving the fire east away from buildings. That allowed fire officials to lift the evacuation warning. American Canyon Road was reopened to traffic about 10:15 p.m.

The sheriff says deputies responded quickly and found a burning vehicle that had been stolen from Vallejo at the scene where the fire started. They say the 26-year-old man nearby was treated for burn injuries.

"They did find a car that was on fire in an area where a car doesn't belong, off road by the water tower and so they did detain a person who actually got some burns themselves and that person is being detained and being investigated as an arson case," said Napa County Sheriff Oscar Ortiz.

The sheriff says the man is expected to survive and CalFire arson investigators are taking over the case.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or