East Bay firefighters on high alert for increased fire danger this weekend

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Thursday, July 13, 2023
EB firefighters on high alert for increased fire danger this weekend
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Firefighters in the East Bay are on high alert for increased fire danger this weekend as temperatures are expected to break records.

HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- California health officials point out that it has been a relatively mild summer, so most people haven't been acclimated to the record-breaking heat that is expected this weekend. And that can pose health possible problems for people.

It also means Bay Area fire crews will likely be busy.

The latest round of Vallejo fire recruits spent the day training at a new fire training facility in Hayward.

MORE: 3.5 million Bay Area residents to be under Excessive Heat Watch this weekend, NWS says

"So, usually in the academy, we give them the lessons and then we give them a test. This is basically, we are giving them a test that is teaching them the lesson," explains Battalion Chief Arthur Gonzales with the Vallejo Fire Department.

Wednesday may just have been practice. But the threat of a real fire is way up headed into the weekend. The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Watch from Friday to late Sunday.

"There is a lot of potential this time of year. The relatively humidity that drops down, and the fuel moistures that are low, pose a challenge. We are ready for those challenges as they come up. We just want to make sure we stay ahead of these fire before they get large," say Gonzales.

The National Weather Service forecasts temperatures in the East Bay to soar to triple digits, hitting 110 in some places like Livermore. The impacts can range from wildfires to problems with the power grid.

"Extreme heat is a killer. More than any disaster we face. We see where fatalities from heat, earthquakes and fires are more dramatic. Flooding is also a killer, but not nearly to the extent that heat impacts our state every single year," explains Brian Ferguson with the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, or Cal OES.

VIDEO: Bay Area officials warn residents to plan ahead of intense heat wave

State agencies are coordinating with local agencies across the state to prepare for this weekend's extreme heat. The National Weather Service predicts record setting temperatures.

"We're expecting a significant round of heat that will steadily build across our state into the weekend and early next week, with some locations experiencing their hottest temperatures so far this summer. Record hot temperatures are likely in some spots across the state. Very hot and dangerous temperatures," says Courtney Carpenter with the National Weather Service.

California's Natural Resources Secretary, Wade Crowfoot, says heat waves are becoming more dangerous and extreme. He says the extreme heat along with wildfires, flooding, sea level rise and coastal erosion, is one five climate driven issues having an unprecedent impact on the state.

"Extreme heat may be the most destructive, the most dangerous towards public health and mortality of any of these climate driven impacts. But it's like literally invisible compared to a wildfire or a drought," says Crowfoot.

Contra Costa County fire officials say another concern is that some of the vegetation around the hills are five feet taller this year compared to than last year due to the wet winter. That means there is more brush to contend this summer and this fire season.

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