CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (CBS SF) — The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the East Bay hills and the Diablo Range beginning Tuesday evening—signaling an earlier start than normal to this year’s fire season in the Bay Area, a local fire marshal said.

The warning that signifies a higher risk for fire danger and more potential for larger fires took effect at 6 p.m. Tuesday in all areas of Alameda and Contra Costa counties above 1,000 feet and part of the East Santa Clara County hills. It will remain in effect until 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Fire personnel will also post “barbecue suspension” signs in parks throughout the region Tuesday evening, and CalFire has issued a statewide burning ban in areas throughout California.

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Tuesday night’s red flag warning comes as low humidity and strong winds blanket the East Bay and after an unseasonably dry April that has caused vegetation in the East Bay to dry out quickly, said Fire Marshal Lewis Broschard of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

“This Red Flag Warning is fairly unusual because it’s coming very early in the fire season,” Broschard said. “This year is shaping up to be a long fire season.”

Over the past several weeks, the fire district has responded to several fires caused by drying vegetation, he said.

The fire marshal said homeowners in Contra Costa County are getting notices to clear dry vegetation from their properties about a month earlier this year due to the dry weather this spring.

As the weather heats up and the marine layer burns off, residents throughout the Bay Area are encouraged to take extra precautions to prevent fires.

In addition to cutting and clearing dry vegetation from homes, those safeguards include ensuring barbecues are kept away from dry grass or brush, completely dousing barbecue fires before leaving them and properly disposing of smoking materials.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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