Fast-moving fire damages over a dozen homes in Petaluma

PETALUMA, Calif. (KGO) -- A fast-moving fire damaged 13 homes near Stuart Drive and northbound Highway 101 in Petaluma Tuesday afternoon.

PHOTOS: Petaluma fire damages homes near Hwy. 101

The fire prompted the California Highway Patrol to close the highway's northbound lanes between East Washington Street and Lakeville Street at 3:30 p.m., CHP officials said.

Fire crews attacked the fire from all sides and made water drops from the air. "They started to dump water on it. I thought oh my God this is going to get worse," homeowner Monique Nichols said.

Firefighters said it began as a grass fire near Highway 101 and that hot and dry conditions fueled the situation. "Fire went up into the trees and the wind started blowing it down the side of the freeway," Petaluma Fire Department Batt. Chief Jeff Holden said.

The flames dropped hot embers on houses below. Four homes were heavily damaged and are now red tagged.

"It's on fire, you have to get out now, they didn't grab anything," relative Marci Luis said.

Luis said her elderly in-laws escaped their burning house just in time.

Many things in the family's home can be salvaged.

Firefighters are investigating to find out what caused the fire.

Bay City News contributed to this story.

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