Bay Area fire departments prepare for rare Dec. Red Flag Warning

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning, which is rare in the month of December. Cal Fire ended the Bay Area wild land fire season back in November, but perhaps it was too soon.

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Firefighters are now unpacking their wildfire gear for this weekend after storing if for the winter season.

"In my 25 years in the fire department I cannot remember a time when we've had a Red Flag Warning up here in the northern part of the state in December," said Battalion Chief Tom Pappas, Alameda County Fire.

The Red Flag warning goes from 10 o'clock Friday evening to 10 o'clock Sunday morning. It's for elevations above 1000 feet in the North and East Bay Hills, Santa Cruz Mountains, Diablo Range, Santa Lucia Range, and the interior mountains of Monterey and San Benito Counties. Winds are predicted at 15 to 30 miles per hour with gusts 50 to 60 miles per hour.

"Any spark during a Red Flag Warning could grow into a major wildfire within minutes," warned Pappas.

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It's a scenario the Santa Rosa Fire Department knows all too well.

"Given what we experienced in October we definitely don't want to be caught off guard. We've definitely taken a lot of proactive measures to be ready," said Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal, Santa Rosa Fire Department.

Around 40 firefighters are on duty this weekend and they've called the remaining 100 in the department to be on stand-by.

"We'll have all equipment remaining in service in their districts and available to respond to emergencies," said Lowenthal.

While the grass is green, predicted gusts of 50 to 60 miles per hour could sweep flames through dry brush and trees.

Alameda County Fire is urging people to avoid activities that could spark a fire. They are staffing a dozer and additional engine company just in case.
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