Firefighters on alert as heat wave expected in Bay Area this weekend

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KRON) — After the Tubbs Fire in 2017 and the Kinkaid Fire in 2019, Sonoma County residents need no reminder how fast a blaze can spread in dry brush — especially with high temperatures.  

With much of the Bay on alert for high temps, firefighters are concerned.

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“We have these increased temperatures for a long period of time over the next week that continues to dry our fuels out and pushes into a critical fire weather pattern,” Paul Lowenthal with the Santa Rosa Fire Department said.

While many might take the weekend to trim back the brush, firefighters advise against it.

“We see a lot of people try and do the right thing and get that second or third cut of grasses in but all those activities in excessive temps are an opportunity to light a fire from a spark,” Lowenthal said.

Instead, they say to make sure your evacuation plans are in place. 

The Santa Rosa Fire Department has a checklist on their website. They advise adding masks and hand sanitizer to your list, and due to COVID-19 if you are evacuated, heading to an evacuation center won’t be your first stop.

“We have been looking at temporary evacuation locations. This is a place where we may move a significant number of people to to give them a place to go that is not inside of a shelter.”

From the large parking areas, people will be screened and then sent somewhere.

“If we need to open a shelter, we will have only 50 people they will be socially distanced,” Jennifer Adrio with American Red Cross said. “Our folks will be in protective equipment. We will be taking temperatures having health screens working with public health departments and we will also have an isolation area set up.

The Red Cross says their first choices in terms of a shelter is to use hotels or dorms, only once those are filled up will they go to the traditional shelter and but again, with a lot less people due to COVID-19.

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