SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – High temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds prompted the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning for the North Bay and East Bay hills from 6:00 p.m. Monday until 6:00 a.m. Wednesday.
The warning covered mountainous areas above 1,000 ft. in Napa, Sonoma, Marin, Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
By Monday evening, winds were expected to reach 15 to 20 mph, with some gusts as strong as 40 mph.
“With the gusty offshore winds and some low humidity that’s expected, the fire danger is going to increase,” warned Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. “We will still continue to see fire danger throughout the next couple of weeks.”
Berlant warned against complacency, simply because summer is over.
“So far this year we’ve been very fortunate in that we have not seen very many destructive fires throughout the state. It’s been relatively quiet this year, but this is the time of year where historically we see the largest and most damaging fires. The Oakland Hills Fire back in 1991 occurred in October.”
It is not uncommon for people to associate fire danger simply with scorching temperatures. By contrast, Berlant stressed the danger inherent with gusty winds.
“This time of year we start to get a little bit of precipitation, the temperatures go down, people start to put their guard down,” he reasoned. “But this is actually when we start to see more winds start to blow. In the North and East Bay hills we’re going to see some strong, gusty winds Monday through Wednesday. And that’s going to elevate the fire danger even more.”
According to Berlant, Cal Fire was prepared.
“We’re going to be on our guard,” he declared. We’ve increased our staffing, we are still prepared as we’ve been all summer long, and it’s important that residents remain prepared for the possibility of wildfires as we go into this heightened fire danger.”
Berlant called on Bay Area residents to exercise caution as well.
“One third of all of our wildfires are caused by equipment use. That’s people trying to do the right thing, cutting down weeds, maybe using a lawnmower on dead grass, that’s just too dangerous to do on a dry, windy day. So if you’re going to cut down dead grass, hopefully you already did that but if you’re going to do it, don’t do it on a dry, windy day. This coming week is not the time.”