SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Hot and dry conditions paired with strong winds are keeping fire-weary Bay Area residents and fire crews on alert Wednesday.
A Red Flag Warning was in effect until Friday for the North and East Bay mountains, inland valleys and the Santa Cruz mountains because of the extreme fire danger.
Wind gusts in the region’s highest elevations topped 40 mph Wednesday morning and were forecast to exceed that; the offshore wind event is expected to continue Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
RED FLAG WARNING now in effect for North & East Bay Mountains, Inland Valleys and Santa Cruz Mountains until 11AM Friday due to an extreme fire danger with gusty offshore winds. @KPIXtv #RedFlagWarning #bayarea #CAwx pic.twitter.com/GA4ezAvWF6
— Mary Lee (@MaryKPIX) October 14, 2020
The critical fire conditions have prompted Pacific Gas and Electric to plan a Public Safety Power Shutoff event starting Wednesday for thousands of customers in all but two Bay Area counties and in 24 counties across the state to prevent fires from starting. Residents can determine whether they will be affected by looking up their address on the PG&E alerts website.
In addition, the East Bay Regional Park District has closed regional parks to the public Wednesday morning through Friday morning because of the conditions.
In Calistoga, life is as normal as it can be under the circumstances, because this is the new normal.
The threat of fire is ever-present in Calistoga these days. It’s hillsides, store fronts and windows all bear a sign of the times. It’s fire season, and that means red flag weather, power shut offs and the possibility of evacuations.
“I used to love October. it was actually one of the busiest months of the year,” said Calistoga store owner Carol Bush. “It has been a disaster for the last two years.”
PG&E has a micro grid established that would provide power to about 1,500 people in the town once it goes dark. Bush’s store for example, will have electricity, but her house in one of the more fire prone areas won’t. It’s an inconvenient reality she says she has gotten used to.
“My housemate is off buying ice as we speak. And then I power up everything here so I can download movies or something to do in the dark at home,” explained Bush.
The extreme fire conditions are occurring across regions where fire crews are approaching full containment on massive wildfires such as the Glass Fire and Zogg Fire, which have destroyed hundreds of homes and killed or injured dozens of people.
Cal Fire said Wednesday that over 11,000 firefighters continue to battle 13 major and 7 other large wildfires/complexes in California.