Man arrested after setting car hood on fire to scare off bears

Justin Scacco
Sierra Sun
A California Highway Patrol officer extinguishes a fire that a man set on the hood of his car. The man told officers he set the fire to scare away bears. (Provided / California Highway Patrol)

California Highway Patrol responded early Thursday to a car on fire, but this was no typical vehicle blaze.

When officers arrived around 5:30 a.m. at the scene, on eastbound Interstate 80 near Farad, they found a man who had started a fire on the hood of his car. Allen Ray Houck, 32, of Rio Linda, told officers there were bears in the area and that he’d set the fire in order to scare them away, authorities said.

“He was just talking about bears. Bears, bears bears,” said Officer Carlos Perez. “(Officers) noticed objective signs of intoxication. Eventually he was placed under arrest for being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, and arson.”

Officers said Houck appeared to be living out of his vehicle, and had started the fire on his hood by using trash from inside his car. Responding officers immediately extinguished the fire.

Perez said the Houck was then taken to the hospital, and later booked into the Nevada County Jail. Results on what drugs he may have taken, according to Perez, are still pending.

“When someone’s lighting their hood on fire and saying they’re scaring bears away, there’s obviously something else going on the background,” said Perez.

Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun, a sister publication to the Tribune. He can be reached at

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