SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — A 42-year-old woman has been arrested for allegedly setting an arson fire on a hillside near the Fountaingrove neighborhood that had been ravaged during the 2017 Tubbs Fire, authorities said.
Santa Rosa police said Kathryn Nichols, a transient from Kansas, was being held in Sonoma County jail on arson, grand theft, attempted extortion and battery of a police officer charges.
Investigators said firefighters responded to a suspicious hillside fire at 11:14 a.m. Sunday that sent shock waves through the neighborhood that has been rebuilding since the Tubbs Fire destroyed dozens of homes.
Numerous witnesses called 9-1-1 to not only report the fire, but also to advise dispatch that a person seen in the area was possibly responsible for setting the blaze.
The fire was quickly contained by firefighters, who had to deploy six fire engines to extinguish the blaze. The fire burned approximately 1-acre of hillside.
While firefighters were battling the fire, numerous police officers scoured the area and located a woman matching the witnesses’ descriptions. She admitted to setting the fire, then proceeded to kick one of the officers in the shin when officers attempted to detain her in handcuffs.
During the fire investigation, another officer was conducting an investigation of a grand theft and extortion case. The officer determined the woman detained for setting the fire was also the outstanding suspect in his investigation.
Earlier in the morning, a cell phone and passport were stolen from a car parked in the 2600-block of Mendocino Avenue. The victims called their stolen cell phone and spoke with the suspect, who demanded a large sum of money for the return of the property. The victims and suspect then negotiated until a lower sum of money was agreed upon.