Santa Rosa fire officials, residents on high alert as powerful winds fuel wildfire threat

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Monday, October 26, 2020
Santa Rosa residents brace for strong winds, elevated fire risk
EMBED <>More Videos

Santa Rosa fire officials expects wind speeds that are stronger that what than those of the 2017 North Bay Fires that devastated entire communities.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Wanda Smith has lived in the Oakmont area in Santa Rosa for past 10 years. Her house was spared from the Glass Fire by the road that runs along the back of her house, which served as a buffer. She is not taking any more chances. She had friends come by on Sunday afternoon to help her cut the trees around her house.

"I'm worried, especially with the winds the next two days. If there is another fire, all this brush that has been accumulating for about 20 or 30 years, might catch fire because of the wind," explains Smith.

And come Sunday night, she will likely also be without power due to the PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

RELATED: PG&E Power Shutoffs: Outages to begin in Bay Area this afternoon as 361,000 estimated to lose power statewide

"If it's true that they are going to have high winds, than I'd rather have the power off than a fire," says Smith.

"The concerns for us are the winds, primarily," says Paul Lowenthal, Assistant Fire Marshall with the Santa Rosa Fire Department

Santa Rosa fire officials expects wind speeds that are stronger that what than those of the 2017 North Bay Fires that devastated entire communities.

Lowenthal says crews have been "pre-staffed and pre-positioned," meaning that if a fire does break out, they can quickly respond. He says the goal is keep the fires small and stop them form spreading.

Another big concern, he says, is the wind blowing down into the more populated valley below. And, also reaching the areas that burned in the 2017 North Bay Fires.

VIDEO: How to prepare for a wildfire evacuation

If there's time, here is a list of essentials to take with you during a wildfire evacuation. Above all else, follow instructions given and get out of harm's way.

"The Tubbs and Nuns Fire area have now had three years of regrowth. So there is a lot of seasonal grasses and brush that has regrown. And that area does now remain a concern to us," he explains.

According to Lowenthal, because PG&E has reduced the numbers customers, who will have their power cut, it means there will be more energized lines, which pose a potential risk.

"Part of our planning now is knowing that a good part of our city will remained energized. And so that's going to have us on heightened alert, that there is now the potential that we could have fires as a result of live power lines, down in the valley floors," says Lowenthal.

RELATED: Some East Bay residents urged to voluntarily evacuate ahead of high wind event

The Kinsburys stocked on supplies ahead of the power outage at a local market. They spent the week cleaning their yard, garage and attic. They say, it's be a tough fire season.

"We're exhausted. Today I spent cutting down more grass, more trees, raking up more leaves. It's just overwhelming," says Linda Kingsbury.

Santa Rosa fire officials say, as of Sunday evening, there are no evacuation warnings. However, they are advising residents who may feel unsafe to relocate for the next day or two.

MORE: Find out if you'll be impacted by PSPS here

You can read the full advisory and check for the most current updates here.

Go here for the latest stories about PG&E.