Fire shuts down northbound Highway 101 in Sonoma County

A fire tore through vegetation and at least three homes were destroyed on Tuesday in Sonoma County, forcing officials to temporarily close the northbound lanes of Highway 101 near Petaluma.The fire area is on the east side of Highway 101, south of East Washington Street, and the California
Highway Patrol has closed all northbound 101 lanes for an indefinite time.Petaluma police said the three-alarm fire - spotted by passing the California Highway Patrol officers around 15:15 - was in the area of ​​Stuart and McKenzie driver, a residential area just east of highway.The structure fire burned houses, trees and other vegetation, said Officer Jonathan Castle, the CHP spokesman.Fire officials believe the fire started as a vegetation fire on the edge of the highway, jumped to nearby trees and then quickly spread to nearby homes.Residents evacuated from homes and looking for family members temporarily assembled at the Safeway parking lot in Washington Square Shopping center, said.The Petaluma police spread of the fire was mostly contained by 04:30, said a sender .For about an hour, the cars will be diverted off the northbound lanes of the highway at Lakeville exit, so fire equipment could get to the scene. The southbound lanes remained open in time.Motorists was told to avoid the area as fire men fought the blaze.About 20 houses along the Stuart Drive was evacuated. There were no reports of casualties, said Lt. Tim Lyons, one Petaluma Police Department spokesmanFirefighters with the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection used helicopters to drop buckets of water on the fire, an unusual feature for a residential fire, but officials called on because of the size of the blaze and the amount of vegetation involved.Eleven various local agencies were called to the scene to help fight the fire.
The police created rendezvous points at a nearby Safeway and at the intersection of Cortez and McKenzie drive evacuated family members to find each other. A shelter also be created at McDowell Elementary School nearby, with the Red Cross to help those who were displaced

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