Bay Area firefighters on high alert due to weather conditions

Bay Area

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KRON) — Think it’s too early for a big wildfire in the Bay Area? Think again. 

Some Bay Area firefighters are preparing for a potentially busy weekend.

The National Weather Service Bay Area issued the Red Flag Warnings for the North and East Bay hills, Marin above 2,000 feet and the East Bay Interior Valleys effective 11 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Monday.

East Bay Hills

The East Bay Hills and the Diablo Range will be under a Red Flag Warning starting at 11 p.m. Friday.

Firefighters say this is very early in the season for a Red Flag Warning and that’s even more reason for people to stay aware all weekend.

“It’s very concerning. That lack of rain is a huge concern. We have early drought conditions.”

The Oakland Hills fire in 1991 was in October — that’s the time of year firefighters are used to battling major fires. But Oakland Deputy Chief Nick Luby says that’s changing.

Firefighters say this weekend to expect dry winds, leading to perfect conditions for a fire to get out of control.

Oakland Battalion Chief Chris Landry said they will have a full staff ready all weekend. They’ll also be educating citizens in hopes they can avoid activities that could create higher risks for fires.

The Oakland Fire Department is in constant communication with neighboring departments and CAL Fire so they can better serve the community.

South Bay

The South Bay has seen its share of wildfires in recent years — and it almost always starts with the grass. It’s as if the Santa Clara Valley went from green to brown overnight. 

The calendar says it’s May, but the hills look more like June or July.

While not yet under a Red Flag Warning, the South Bay will see some wind this weekend and that has firefighters on high alert, says CAL Fire’s Cole Periera.

Don’t think it’s too early for a big fire. 2008’s Summit Fire, which burned 4,000 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains, broke out amid high winds on May 22. 

The early fire season has CAL Fire adding more staff, which now includes the California National Guard, which are in training this week in CAL Fire’s Santa Clara unit.

The recent flare-ups of hotspots from last summer’s fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains suggest the heavier fuels are also drying out early, grass and other vegetation fires are the biggest threat right now. 

Annual grasses and other so-called “ladder fuels” that can ignite homes and other structures are drying out a record four to six weeks ahead of normal.

North Bay

Some people are still reeling from last summer’s fires.

It is getting breezy and Napa County is under extreme drought conditions so there is heightened concern for fire danger.

The Napa County Hills specifically. The area has suffered from devastating wildfires.

According to the National Weather Service, fuel data shows nearly all available fuel classes are approaching near record dry levels for early May.

One Saint Helena resident who evacuated last year and has been preparing her home. 

The Napa County Sheriff is reminding people to be prepared, have go bags ready and know your escape routes and set up emergency alerts.

Especially since a wildfire can ignite during the overnight hours when people are asleep.

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