Fire officials warn of dry conditions heading into holiday

May 24, 2013 7:54:05 PM PDT
The Memorial Day weekend is here with a warning -- dry conditions mean there's an increased threat of wildfires. Friday afternoon, firefighters responded to a grassfire in Hercules which damaged three homes.

A grassfire off Highway 4 in Hercules destroyed a backyard deck and the fences behind three homes. The fire quickly made its way up the hill. Investigators do not know how the fire began, but wind was a contributing factor.

"Very fast, it was uphill run with the wind behind it so it goes very quickly once things dry out," Cal Fire spokesperson Mike Martin said.

Nima Faghirzadeh came home early from work just to find crews from the Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District in his backyard.

"We've never had an issue before," he said. "I've been here 5.5 years and never had any problems."

California had one of the driest winters on record. On any given year, by late May, Cal Fire responds to about 850 wildfires; this year, firefighters have tackled 1,600.

"We didn't have any rain -- January February, March we have very little rainfall, what rain we had there were in small spurts," Martin said.

This Memorial Day weekend fire departments are reminding people to be extra careful in the outdoors.

"They need to be aware of their surroundings, not discard cigarettes, when the weather warms up not to have BBQs, lawn mowers and just have situation-awareness at all times," Oakland Fire Department Batt. Chief Lisa Baker said.

Some fire departments have already equipped their trucks with the necessary wildfire gear, something they usually do in mid-June.


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