ROSEVILLE - Firefighters said a fire that destroyed four mobile homes and severely damaged a fifth home was started by arson.
The fire broke out about 5:20 p.m. Friday in southwest Placer County. It erupted in in an empty field at PFE and Walerga roads and burned 5 acres.
The suspect, identified as 29-year-old Melanie Orantes, was arrested Friday while firefighters fought the flames. Witnesses saw Orantes throw a cigarette into a field and walk away. Detectives were able to track her down and take her into custody. Orantes was booked into Placer County Jail for arson; her bail has been set at $150,000.
The fire was next to the Sabre City Mobile Home Park, which had to be evacuated. Caitlin Powell said her parents and others were forced to leave.
"[My parents] were in their house when it was on fire," Powell said. "Someone came up and started banging on the doors to get out of the house."
"I just heard a lady running down the street yell fire! Fire! Get out of the house," Jan Reilly said. "I got my shoes, my keys and went out the door."
Crews were able to stop the fire from spreading to dozens of mobile homes, including Reilly's home. But, a handful were homes were damaged or destroyed.
Eric Brasswell was playing outside with his kids about a quarter mile away from the fire. He saw heavy black smoke behind his home. At first, he wasn't sure if it had something to do with the Cal Expo fire.
"That's crazy, that after that one," Brasswell said. "There's another one so soon so close."
With a dry winter, Cal Fire said wildfire season never ended. As dry and hot conditions continue, the number of wildfires is expected to increase.