'This could've been prevented:' Neighbors evacuated in Vallejo fire call out property owner

Neighbors say they've been bracing for a fire to erupt for a year, citing a controversial relationship with the property owner.
VALLEJO, Calif, (KGO) -- The ABC7 I-Team is learning more about a grass fire that damaged eight homes and forced dozens to evacuate in Vallejo Tuesday night.

Neighbors say they've been bracing for a fire to erupt over the past year, citing a controversial relationship with the property owner.

RELATED: Fast-moving grass fire in Vallejo damages at least half a dozen homes

"We've asked this the owner of this property to cut it for years," said Deon. "We've brought this to the city and asked them and they haven't and this is the result of it."

The Vallejo Fire Department is investigating and confirmed to the I-Team at least eight homes were damaged - four of which are currently inhabitable.

Fire officials confirmed a well-known martial artist, Carley Gracie owns 20-acres of land in the area, including the parcel that threatened homes along Skyline Dr.

"I watched him, he went behind his house and sprayed behind his house with the water hose," Deon said.

VIDEO: Homes damaged in 4-alarm Vallejo grass fire
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Video shows crews working hard to save homes that caught fire during hot, windy conditions Tuesday in Vallejo.



According to the fire marshal, Gracie has received four warnings for failing to properly abate his property over the past year.

"How often is this property abated?" ABC7's Stephanie Sierra asked a neighbor across the street.

"Not very often," Francis Velasco said.

Neighbor Pat Carpenter says in the past goats have been used to maintain the field, but he did notice a group come by recently.

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"Several weeks ago they came through and mowed the perimeter and a couple fire breaks."

The fire department says Gracie's attempts to mitigate haven't been "satisfactory," and have requested a warrant in order to enter the property and complete the work. Gracie owns a Jiu-Jitsu academy off Welsh St. in San Francisco. The I-Team reached out to him multiple times, including his attorney Ann Draper, who declined to comment.

Neighbors still remain hopeful action will be taken to mitigate the land before the Fourth of July holiday.

"It is concerning because of how hot and how dry and the winds lately," Carpenter said.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

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