SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Officials are on alert as the weather forecasts conditions that could help start and spread wildfires in the North Bay and East Bay this week.
The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch starting 5 p.m. on Thursday, lasting through Friday morning at 11 a.m.
It impacts the North Bay Mountains and Valleys, East Bay Hills, and Diablo Range.
NWS says there is a slight chance for dry thunderstorms, with potential cloud to ground lightning that could spark a new wildfire. Gusty outflow winds increase the risk of a new wildfire rapidly spreading.
The watch means fire danger is high, but it is a step below a Red Flag Warning, which is the highest alert. There is no Red Flag Warning at this time.
However, officials still want residents to be extremely cautious.
“It happens quickly when it happens,” Nick Luby, Deputy Chief of Operations at Oakland Fire Department, said.
That’s exactly what happened at the Cache Fire in Lake County last month. Residents had to rush out of their homes.
“Sometimes you have a lot of time to prepare for an evacuation such as they did in South Lake Tahoe where it was two weeks into the fire but there are some fires where you have five to 10 minutes,” Luby said.
Luby says that’s why people need to prepare for the worst-case scenario. He adds that those who live in fire prove areas should know their evacuation zone because when or if evacuation orders and warnings are issued it will be by zone numbers.