Hot weather forecast keeps Bay Area fire agencies on alert

May 31, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
No red flag warnings in the nine Bay Area counties right now, but plenty of hot weather is in store in the East Bay this weekend.

Firefighters will tell you that it's not just the heat, the wind, or dry fuel that creates high fire danger, it's all of the above. And that's exactly what they will be watching out for here in the East Bay this weekend.

Alameda County firefighters decided to cancel a controlled burn near the Livermore National Laboratory Friday because the weather changed in a way that made the exercise potentially dangerous.

"We halted it because of the wind and also the relative humidity was getting down in the single digits," Alameda County Fire Department Battalion Chief Alan Evans said.

The wind and the humidity will be the key factors going into what is expected to be a hot weekend in the inland areas like Livermore and Pleasanton.

On the west side of the East Bay Hills, the Oakland Fire Department will have some extra patrols, but it's not expected to get as hot or ripe for fire.

That is, unless a combination of factors converge in places like this, where the wildland interfaces directly with a dense population of hilltop homes above it in places Richmond and Kensington.

"It's May already, but we have very dry fuels as you can see, the brush and trees are drying out fast so when we have hot weather we become more concerned because we can expect more extreme fire if it occurs in the vegetation," said Contra Costa County Fire Inspector George Laing.

Bob Buchen has lived here for many years and has seen plenty of fires burn a little too close to his wood shingled house. But he feels a little better going into this summer since East Bay Regional Parks cleared some defensible space behind his house.

When asked if he's concerned by this weekend's forecasted warm weather, Buchen answered, "I'm not, no, because we've got a pretty good fire break here. It gets windy here, it won't get hot here, but it does get windy."

At this point, none of the fire agencies plan to beef up staffing due to the warm weather this weekend. But they note that could change if conditions change and if a red flag warning is issued for this area.


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