Bay Area firefighters on high alert as Red Flag Warning is issued

HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- Bone-dry conditions, low humidity and strong winds are putting firefighters on high alert in the Bay Area.

A Red Flag Warning, the highest alert issued by the National Weather Service, is in effect starting Sunday for the East Bay and North Bay.

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The public toured an open house at Hayward Fire Station 2 on Saturday, which just reopened after a seismic retrofit. The Red Flag Warning made some firefighters uneasy.

"We're on edge because we know any spark from a lawnmower or people pulling off the side of the road could spark a wildfire," said Hayward Fire Department Capt. Don Nichelson.

Contra Costa County Fire Department's training facility opened its doors to the public, part of fire prevention month.

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"We support our firefighters, they do a tremendous job," said parent Serena Moore, who brought her kids.

Firefighters were keeping their eyes on the Diablo mountain range, where winds were expected to pick up and temperatures rise. The department is boosting staffing levels.

"Any little spark can do a lot of damage as we've seen in past years," said Fire Marshal Robert Marshall.

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Marshall urged the public to stay vigilant when it comes to fire prevention.

Starting Sunday the department will stage an engine company strike team, which will be ready to go if a wildfire happens.

On Oct. 7, a Contra Costa County Fire Department strike team was dispatched to fight a 4,000 acre grass fire in Solano County.

The greatest threat is at elevations above 1,000 feet in Napa County and eastern Sonoma County, where the driest conditions and strongest winds are most likely, according to the weather service.

Northeast winds are forecast to be from 20 to 35 mph, with gusts up to 60 mph in some locations.
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