A Maidu Park fire that tore through 30 acres and damaged four homes in California may have been started by a group of children, police say.
The fire started in Maidu Regional Park in Roseville, California, on Friday. Police received a call at close to 2:25 pm that a nature area behind Maidu Elementary School was on fire, and heavy winds and fuel caused the blaze to grow rapidly. Firefighters were able to contain the Maidu Park fire to the nature area, but it still damaged four homes and a gazebo.
“We had some housing with combustible exteriors, like shake roofs,” said Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Carman. “The structure fires resulted from embers blown onto the homes by the wind.”
Residents of the four homes damaged in the fire were forced out and are now being assisted by the Red Cross, authorities noted. Carman added that none of the homes were too badly burnt, saying the damage ranged from “mild to moderate.”
Though no other homes were evacuated as a result of the Maidu Park fire, Carman said close to 250 residents in the area were notified and advised to either shelter in place or leave the area.
Carman added that the Maidu Park fire could be a sign of things to come, adding he expects this to be a “really, really bad fire season.”
Close to 180 firefighters were called in to help contain the blaze, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection also joined in.
Authorities have not made a determination as to the cause of the Maidu Park fire, but witnesses say they saw children leaving the area where the fire originated.
“It looks suspicious,” Carman said. “There’s nothing accidental at this point, I think. We had children running from the area. They didn’t tell us how the fire started, so I would assume it’s suspicious.”
There were no injuries reported in the Maidu Park fire.