The Newell Fire, which began as a quickly moving grass fire Monday evening in American Canyon and was soon threatening homes and American Canyon High School, is 60% contained and only reached 132 acres as of Tuesday morning. Signs are already pointing to arson — specifically a stolen car that may have been purposely torched in the area.
The fire broke out just before 6 p.m. in the area of Newell Drive and Silver Oak Trail. Fire quickly burned up a hillside and could be seen from American Canyon High School and neighborhoods in the area, and by 6:45 p.m., an evacuation warning had been issued by the sheriff's office for all homes and businesses east of Broadway in American Canyon.
Almost immediately, arriving officers say, they found the suspected source — a car on fire, which turned out to have been stolen in Vallejo, sitting off-road in an odd spot.
"When officers responded to the fire and got on scene they did find a car that was on fire, in an area that a car doesn't belong, off road by a water tower in a creek area," said Sheriff Oscar Ortiz, per ABC 7. Ortiz added, per KTVU, that deputies "did detain a person who actually got some burns on themselves and that person is being detained and [is] being investigated as an arson case."
The suspect is reportedly a 26-year-old male, and no other details have been made available.
The fire was under control and all evacuation warnings were lifted as of 8:40 p.m., but containment remained at 60% overnight, and flames were still highly visible.
#UPDATE : SKY7 over #NewellFire in #AmericanCanyon 150-200 acres now. Crews apparently making good progress. It's 65-degrees, 15% humidity, N wind gust to 20mph. You may be smelling/seeing smoke in east bay. Stay inside w/doors & windows closed to avoid exposure. #BayArea pic.twitter.com/M3WogIQ2Vg— Sandhya Patel (@SandhyaABC7) October 12, 2021
That could have been a lot worse than it was. The heart of American Canyon sits below that ridge. Thankfully the flames ran into dirt (and a small army of firefighters). 250 acres total acc'd to @CAL_FIRE #newellfire pic.twitter.com/J0ajmfLqlV— Derek Moore (@deadlinederek) October 12, 2021
Cal Fire initially said the blaze reached 150 acres, but that decreased to 132 acres, the agency said, due to "better mapping."
Smoke from the fire was reportedly detected by residents as far away as Oakland.
Also amid Monday's high winds, a much larger fire broke out in Santa Barbara County, in the Los Padres National Forest near Highway 101. Dubbed the Alisal Fire, that blaze grew to 6,000 acres and is burning in dense chaparral. According to the U.S. Forest Service, which is fighting the blaze, "Smoke is visible throughout southern Santa Barbara County including the Santa Ynez Valley and along the Gaviota coastline."
Top image courtesy of PG&E fire cam.