Red Flag Warning issued for parts of Bay Area

Never before, at least not that veteran weather observers can remember, has a red-flag warning been ever called this early in the year.
January 14, 2014 10:02:37 PM PST
Tinder dry conditions are prompting a Red Flag Warning and leaving communities vulnerable to fire at a time when the Bay Area should be seeing rain. The winds are strong enough to cause destruction to people living in the red flag area and firefighters are offering safety device.

A windy, sunny day in January isn't usually cause for alarm, but when you factor in how dry the ground is right now, there is cause for concern.

The fire crews in the El Cerrito hills spent much of their day on patrol looking for any signs, behaviors or conditions that might cause a fire. Part of the prevention effort includes putting signs out in El Cerrito's parks warning of the conditions, and prohibiting open fires or barbecues.

"It's pretty interesting; being proactive is the way to be, but it seems weird that we have to worry about fires in the middle of January," Albany resident Robert Rimi said.

In Oakland, there are no extra patrols due to budget cuts and the failure of a local measure to boost funds for firefighting.

One big concern is predicted wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour in the higher elevations.

"With all the dryness that we have here and all these winds, we have to keep a vigil and be alert, you know like 24-7," Oakland Hills resident Shirley Guggenheimer said.

The conditions are so dangerous that Cal Fire has called back some of its seasonal personnel early, 125 of them in the Bay Area.

Cal Fire has also maintained or re-opened five bases that provide air support, like they did during last summer's Mt. Diablo fire. Those stations include: Hemet, Ramona, Paso Robles, Hollister and Chico.

Firefighters say the conditions right now are more like what they normally see in September and October at the height of the fire season.