CAL FIRE prepares for red flag warnings


The Range Fire started Wednesday afternoon in Dublin and quickly spread to 60 acres; it is exactly what CAL FIRE is worried about. Even though the summer fire season is officially over, October is historically a dangerous month.

"Fires in Southern California with Santa Ana winds, the Tunnel Fire in Oakland, and Berkeley fire back in the 20s, all those occurred during the month of October, very later in the year," said Fire Chief Jim Crawford from the CAL FIRE Emergency Command Center.

Jesus Garcia lives in the dry hills of East San Jose, he doesn't need a high fire danger sign near his home or a red flag warning to tell him conditions make him vulnerable.

"With the wind and the hills, [a fire can] spread real easy," said Garcia.

Fire agencies are most concerned about low humidity and strong winds. The weather service predicts frequent wind gusts from the north to northeast in the range of 35 to 45 mph.

"The winds are a double-edge sword, not only to they make the fire grow faster and quicker, they actually dry out those grasses that are already dry," said Capt. Mary Gutierrez from the San Jose Fire Department.

The East Bay Hills of Alameda and Contra Costa County as well as the Diablo Range in Santa Clara County are especially at risk.

Lydia Duran, from San Martin, says she had a close call with a grass fire and once is enough.

"The fire was in our backyard, but it went all the way up there, but it stopped at that house in the hill," said Martin.

The red flag warning means burn permits are not being issued and there are no controlled burns taking place. Crawford says everyone should be on high alert.

"Don't be complaint. That's probably the big thing, just because the weather and cooled down and days are shorter, doesn't mean that we can't have a fire," said Crawford.

On Monday, CAL FIRE had just six engines ready to respond, but the red flag warning alert triggered another three engines to come online.

The red flag warning in effect from Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011 until 6 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 27.

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