SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — A grass fire in the Lucas Valley-Marinwood area near San Rafael forced a number of evacuations Wednesday afternoon before firefighters got it under control.
Crews scrambled to control the grass fire which grew to about 30 acres within hours after igniting near Mt. Lassen Drive around 2:20 p.m. Helicopter crews dropped water and fire retardant to keep the flames from homes north of Lucas Valley Road.
As of 5:30 p.m., the fire was holding at 30 acres and was 80% contained, according to the Marin County Fire Department, but people were urged to continue avoiding the area.
Shortly after 6 p.m., the Marin County Sheriff’s Office said all evacuation orders and warnings had been lifted.
#LassenFire update. Fire holding at 30 acres. 80% contained. Forward progress stopped. Aircraft released. Crews continuing to make progress. Please continue to avoid the area. pic.twitter.com/PmGS4L6E1k
— Marin County Fire (@marincountyfire) September 2, 2021
Early on, the fire department said the fire — referred to as the Lassen Fire — was burning at a slow/moderate rate of spread; nearby residents said it looked much faster.
Darin Schilling describes the moment the fire first started.
“One siren after another. And then I started counting sirens and then I realized it was pretty serious. And I looked outside and there was a huge plume of smoke,” Schilling told KPIX 5.
This fire started just after two and minutes later, officers drove through the neighborhood and alerted residents to evacuate.
For Dusty Knight, this is her 2nd evacuation in roughly a month after fleeing the Monument Fire west of Redding. Dusty Knight from Weaverville said, “I’ve evacuated all my stuff here, it’s in my car again to evacuate again.”
It’s growing quickly. We can see flames from Lucas Valley Road. pic.twitter.com/jsSvORaWiA
— Charong (@Charong) September 1, 2021
San Rafael police confirmed there were evacuations ordered in the Marinwood neighborhood in the area of Las Gallinas Avenue and Bridgegate Drive and Marinwood Open Space. The fire did not force evacuations further south in Terra Linda.
Crews & Air support are on scene of Lassen Fire. Evacs for part of Marinwood are underway. No evacs in Terra Linda. https://t.co/INgWWO1aJm
— San Rafael Police (@SanRafaelPolice) September 1, 2021
By 3:50 p.m., the fire had grown to 20 acres and was zero percent contained, the fire department said. Just a few minutes later, Cal Fire updated the size to 30 acres and noted containment was still at zero percent.
After firefighters got a handle on the fire and announced 80% containment, the San Rafael Fire Department thanked residents for following evacuation orders.
Thank you to all the residents that followed evacuation orders- good news- all the orders are now warnings. Per @MarinSheriff Residents may return home. Please stay alert of our first responders still on scene and any changing conditions. https://t.co/dApE7KG5Gj @marinwoodcsd https://t.co/gGMz7eoq14
— San Rafael Fire (@SRFD) September 2, 2021
Longtime residents said it’s been a while seen they’ve seen a sizable fire in the neighborhood.
Donna Solin recalls, “In 1978, we had a huge fire come through here and it came right down to those houses on Idylberry.”
Because of her past experience, Solin said she was prepared. “We have our bag packed in case of an emergency,” she told KPIX 5.
For others, this fire was a reminder to have a bag packed and to be ready for the worst-case scenario.
“I went home to pack. I wasn’t packed and it’s very disorienting, packing in that moment,” said resident Mary Murray.
There was no immediate word on what caused the fire or if there were any damage or injuries.