Dry conditions lead to three East Bay fires

June 11, 2008 7:18:11 PM PDT
In Contra Costa County there were three fires before noon Wednesday, all coming dangerously close to homes. Dry conditions throughout the East Bay are making this a dangerous fire season.

Those who live in the East Bay didn't need a red flag to tell them the weather was ripe for fire. All they had to do was look up in the sky.

In Lafayette, a grass fire threatened several homes along Toyon Road. The fire charred several acres before crews from Contra Costa County and East Bay Regional Parks knocked it down.

"Every single time you have a fire, it always gets you wondering where's the next one going to be, and that's a horrible situation about where we live. It's so tinder dry right now, and this is just the beginning of the season," says Batt. Chief Dave George with the Contra Costa Fire Dept.

Just as crews in Lafayette were mopping up, another fire started racing up a hill in Alamo next to Interstate 680, just below several homes, including Scott Dunning's.

"My wife and I were leaving and we saw the whole hillside here in the front was on fire, going up in the trees, it was getting pretty high up there, about 30 feet," says Dunning.

"We've put a couple extra units on duty during this high hazard weather, so we do expect it will be a busy summer," says San Ramon Valley Fire Chief Craig Bowen.

This is the first red flag day in Contra Costa County since 2006 when the Diablo Firesafe Council first presented the county with bright red pennants to help keep local residents informed when conditions are especially dangerous.

"People have to be both alert, to be extra cautious and to have a plan about what they're going to do when the fire happens," says Carol Pranka with the Diablo Firesafe Council.

At Mt. Diablo State Park, rangers aren't taking any chances. They're taking fire readings twice a day.

"We took some this morning and they were at red flag warning, and we're going to be monitoring the situation and taking them this afternoon and then we're going to have to evaluate from there," says Dan Stefanisko, a Mt. Diablo park ranger.

If they determine that fire conditions have worsened up at Mt. Diablo State Park, they will close the park. The park is currently open, but with heavy restrictions on campfires and smoking. Same conditions apply for East Bay Regional Parks.


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