Storms, dry lightning prompts fire danger warning

Fire truck
August 19, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Firefighters are bracing for potential fires after a Red Flag Warning was issued for much of the Bay Area.

The forecast is calling for thunderstorms in the Bay Area over the next couple of days. The storms aren't expected to produce rain, but could create lightning strikes. The risk of lightning mixed with dry conditions prompted the Red Flag Warning.

Local fire officials are prepared to bring in additional resources if necessary in the event of a fire in the Bay Area.

"Lightning doesn't just land near the side of the road; it's out in the middle of nowhere. So we either have to hike into it, we have to fly into it - use air resources to get to it," said CAL FIRE Batt. Chief Darrell Wolf.

Right now, more than 5,000 firefighters are battling 10 wildfires throughout the state, including one in Butte County that's threatening more than 400 structures. That fire is 45 percent contained. In the Tahoe National Forest, fire officials are dealing with a fire that's burned almost 14,000 acres and is 49 percent contained.

Firefighters warned homeowners in Mill Valley to be on guard. To make sure all of Mill Valley is ready for the high fire danger, they've been placed on alert. The red flag warning is a way to tell the community that all the elements for a possible fire are in place -- thick, brittle fuels along with the threat of dry lightning strikes are the perfect mix to start a blaze.

Mill Valley Fire Batt. Chief Michael St. John pointed out how the vegetation on steep slopes in the area with houses intermixed, places parts of Mill Valley at greater risk than Oakland was before their fire in 1991.

Compounding the issue are narrow, winding roads that leave little room for emergency vehicles to enter if residents are trying to escape.

To make sure everyone is prepared in the event of an emergency, the city of Mill Valley is offering an emergency preparedness class to all residents free of charge.


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