Arcata Fire: Suspicious Morning Blaze that Nearly Spread to 8 Businesses Shows Dangers of Current Staffing, Station Closures


The Arcata Fire District is calling an early morning vehicle fire that came close to spreading to eight businesses “human caused and suspicious in nature.”

According to a news release, the close proximity of the responding station to the fire at 11th and N streets played a major role in staving off extensive damage.

“This is a good example of why we have fire stations strategically placed and why it is important to have those stations staffed with full-time career firefighters,” Battalion Chief Sean Campbell said in the release. “The quick response from the Arcata Station is what allowed us to quickly extinguish this fire and save almost $3 million in property. This fire would have been inside of the business in another minute.”
At the end of March, AFD announced it would shut down one of its stations as a result of Measure R being defeated at the ballot box. The special property tax would have increased the district's budget by $2.2 million and allowed for maintaining current staffing levels and rebuilding depleted reserve funds.

Instead, Campbell said, the district now has to operate with dangerous staffing levels.

“It is absurd that we are fighting a commercial structure fire with only four on duty firefighters. We had a fifth firefighter respond off duty and we had mutual aid coming in another 10-15 minutes,” Campbell said. “This level of staffing is dangerous. Every day we are rolling the dice on community and firefighter safety.”

The Arcata Downtown Fire Station, which responded, will temporarily be closed from May 27 to June 3 due to budget cutbacks related to the failure of Measure R, which has stations closing on a rotating basis.

The district estimates this morning’s fire caused about $10,500 in damage while nearly $3 million in property was saved. No one was injured.

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