Saturday, 15 June 2024

Saturday Fire endangers Lakeport neighborhood

A playhouse burns in Alterra Drive resident Mike Hampton's backyard. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKEPORT – A grass fire that broke out Saturday afternoon endangered numerous homes, caused firefighters to evacuate residents, and burned at least one outbuilding and several vehicles.

The fire occurred in the area of Crystal Lake Way and Alterra Drive in north Lakeport, bordering a neighborhood of about 30 homes.

Keith Hill of Cal Fire's incident center reported that they received a call for mutual aid at 2:56 p.m.

Mike Hampton, who lives along the south side of Alterra Drive, said his wife called to tell him about the fire at 2:45 p.m. while he was still at work for AT&T in Ukiah. Hampton said his wife reported hearing sirens at that point.

At 2:51 p.m., with the fire spreading quickly, Hampton's wife called 911 and and was told to evacuate her home immediately. Hampton said his wife immediately took their children and did just that, calling him as she did so, and he immediately left Ukiah.

Emergency personnel told the other residents to evacuate their homes as well, as high winds pushed the fire down the hill and in the direction of the homes with smoke so thick that visibility on the ground was down to 80 feet.

Panicked people were running down the streets carrying their children, pets and their possessions.

Many also stayed behind, using shovels and buckets of water from swimming pools to build defense lines between the fire and their homes.

About a dozen engines were on scene, coming from agencies including Lakeport Fire Protection District, Northshore Fire, Kelseyville Fire, U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire. The Lake County Sheriff's Office and California Highway Patrol also were on scene, with CHP directing homeowners to move their vehicles to a safe area behind a local gas station.

Cal Fire sent two engines, one dozer, two hand crews, a battalion chief, one air attack, one helicopter and two air tankers. The specifics of how many personnel and engines from other agencies was not available Saturday evening.

The Cal Fire air tankers proved critical to the firefighting effort. Firefighters at the scene noted trouble getting enough pressure from the neighborhood's fire hydrants. Hampton confirmed that the homes in the area have struggled with water pressure for some time.

Cal Fire personnel on the radio could be heard pinpointing the precise area to drop water on the fire, with officials making efforts not to drop it too heavily on the area's homes.

The grass fire which emergency personnel indicated may have begun when a resident was mowing grass with a lawnmower burned trees, hundreds of feet of a shared neighborhood fence and then followed side fences closer to residence.

Estimates on the fire ranged from four to eight acres is size, with a definite size not yet confirmed from Lakeport Fire.

As many as 50 firefighters were still at the scene later into the evening after 6 p.m., mopping up and putting out hot spots.

Hampton and his family were safely back in their home on Saturday night, although they were shaken by the experience. One of the buildings to burn that day was his children's playhouse in the backyard. The heat from the fire was so intense that it caused some windows in his home to break.

Several cars and a sailboat also were lost in the fire, with further building losses unconfirmed Saturday evening.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Neighborhood residents were told to evacuate. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


One of two Cal Fire helicopters dropped water on the fire. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


A firefighter works on a shared back fence along which the fire traveled. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


A view of several acres burned on Saturday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


Some of the losses in Saturday's fire included several vehicles and a sailboat. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



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