Highway 101 reopens after roadside blaze

Two people suffered minor injuries and a cat was killed by a three-alarm wildfire that destroyed four Petaluma homes and damaged 10 more Tuesday afternoon when it spread into a residential area, firefighters said.

California Highway Patrol officers spotted the fire on the right shoulder of northbound Highway 101 near East Washington Street around 3:15 p.m.

Petaluma firefighters responded at 3:17 p.m., finding multiple homes burning on Stuart Drive in a neighborhood adjacent to the highway.

The fire was spreading to other homes, so firefighters upgraded the incident to a third alarm and requested assistance from Cal Fire.

With the aid of a helicopter dropping water, they were able to bring the vegetation fire under control after roughly an hour and prevent further spread from house to house, but fires inside the houses took an additional three hours.

Many residents were home at the time of the fire, according to firefighters, and they were evacuated to a nearby parking lot. Two suffered minor injuries, but didn’t need to be taken to a hospital.

A cat trapped inside one of the houses was killed.

The Red Cross assisted displaced residents of the four homes that were destroyed, and PG&E is working to restore gas and electrical service to the homes that remain habitable, according to firefighters.

The fire prompted the closure of Highway 101’s northbound lanes between East Washington Street and Lakeville Street, CHP officials said, but all lanes were open by 5 p.m.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.