Rough and Ready woman reportedly caught in act of setting fire |

Rough and Ready woman reportedly caught in act of setting fire

A Rough and Ready woman ended up in jail on arson charges after reportedly getting caught in the act by a passerby Tuesday night — the fifth arrest on arson charges in the county since May.

Ashley Nicole McClain, 29, was arrested after a witness reportedly identified her as the person responsible for setting a large piece of paper on fire on the side of the road.

A Nevada County Sheriff’s deputy on patrol at about 8:15 p.m. saw McClain walking in the 13000 block of Ridge Road, said Sheriff Keith Royal.

“After he passed her, he saw a second woman trying to extinguish a fire while on a cellphone,” Royal said. “She was trying to dial 911.”

According to Royal, the woman immediately pointed out McClain as having started the fire.

McClain reportedly fled into the brush but was taken into custody after a short foot pursuit. She was booked into county jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Her arrest is just the latest of a string of charges related to intentionally setting fires in the county, with two in Nevada City and two in Grass Valley.

— Bryce C. Bankert, 62, was arrested May 5 after reportedly having been seen throwing a large armful of pine needles on a fire, which was in a heavily wooded area in Pioneer Park in Nevada City.

Bankert reportedly said that he was burning the pine needles because he was worried someone could start a fire by dropping a lit cigarette.

He has been charged with recklessly causing a fire to a forest, vandalism and aggravated trespassing and is set to enter a plea Aug. 27.

— Also in Nevada City, a local woman living in a homeless camp reportedly started a fire near Little Deer Creek in late June.

A Nevada City Police officer was dispatched to a report of smoke in the area above the Stonehouse and saw Marlena Marie Brennan, 44, on his way up the trail. He reportedly found a slow-burning brush fire near a tent and a sleeping bag in an area about 75 yards from several buildings.

Brennan was arrested on suspicion of arson of forest land, and possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia.

— In Grass Valley, a man described as a transient was arrested in late June after he reportedly was discovered next to a campfire he had set on the patio of an inhabited apartment.

Officers were dispatched to an apartment complex in the 200 block of Dorsey Drive and reportedly located an “extremely intoxicated” man on the patio next to multiple bottles of alcohol, some of which were empty.

There was the remnants of a small campfire with twigs and paper. The campfire was built against a wood-sided wall on the patio, which was covered by an upstairs wooden porch; the building was surrounded by bushes, pine needles and very dry trees.

James Clifford Steward, 45, was arrested on suspicion of arson of an inhabited dwelling.

— On July 20, Grass Valley Police officers arrested Tracie Noel Timmons, 42, after she reportedly started a campfire that escaped into surrounding brush off Sutton Way.

A witness called 911 to report that the woman was lighting a fire in a wooded area in the 11000 block of Sutton Way, telling officers she saw the woman feeding the fire with dry vegetation.

Officers arrived to find that the campfire already had been extinguished by firefighters, but appeared to have been lit under dry manzanita branches and escaped the campfire.

Timmons has been charged with felony arson of property. She did not appear for her scheduled arraignment on July 29 and a $50,000 arrest warrant was issued.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User