AMERICAN CANYON — Fire broke out Sunday afternoon outside American Canyon, in a yard packed with dozens of vehicles. The blaze was fanned to 20 acres by strong northerly winds and created a black plume visible for several miles around, according to fire authorities.

Napa County Fire was notified at 2:29 p.m. about smoke wafting from a vehicle yard in the 1600 block of Green Island Road, south of Napa County Airport, according to Battalion Chief Jason Martin. The first trucks arrived within 10 minutes, and crews later arrived from the American Canyon, Napa city, Vallejo and St. Helena fire departments, he said.

Flames began at the north end of the property, which Martin said was occupied by “hundreds” of vehicles, many apparently scrapped and unused, behind a chain-link fence. Winds from the north soon extended the blaze to the opposite end of the property, and firefighters attacked multiple tongues of orange flame from outside the fence, using tankers because the nearest hydrant was off to the east of the yard. Helicopters also dropped water onto the inferno.

Several booms rang out from the flaming vehicles and debris, which firefighters said may have been bursting propane tanks and tires.

“It wasn’t that big, but there was nobody to deal with it,” said Marc Cruz, who owns a house on the property and said he kept more than two dozen vintage cars, and the same number of vintage boats, there. “We lost the house. Everything’s gone.”

Two houses and a barn on the grounds are presumed lost, said Cruz and another property owner, Charles Baker.

Get news headlines sent daily to your inbox

Martin, the battalion chief, said the full extent of structural damage would not be known until firefighters contained the blaze, whose windblown plume created a black curtain that blocked the rest of Green Island Road from view.

Three homes to the west of the fire were evacuated, he said.

33
66
14
27
22

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.