CLEARLAKE (KPIX 5) — Three people were arrested on suspicion of looting in the area of where the Clayton Fire has burned thousands of acres, forcing thousands of people from their homes.

From his front porch, Marshall Curtis said he has been watching police and looters play a game of cat and mouse.

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“I heard this motorcycle fire up, and haul butt heading off down the street – Clearlake police right behind him,” Curtis said.

The problem started as quickly as the fire spread.

“Within a half hour of the evacuation order, you could hear burglar alarms going off. That’s why I’m not leaving,” resident Karl Mason said.

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There are checkpoints at every major entrance to neighborhoods in the area, but it’s hardly impenetrable.

Police and fire crews are patrolling, but can’t be everywhere. So, the phrase ‘defensible space’ has taken on a new meaning for the homeowners.

“You’re not going to loot my house, I’ve got my gun,” Clearlake resident Jimmy Bartels said.

But, staying presents its own problems, because if you leave – you can’t get back in.

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“I need some high blood pressure medication. I’ve been out for three days,” Bartels said.