Triple-digit temperatures sparks fire, neighborhood blackouts in East Bay

ByAnser Hassen via KGO logo
Tuesday, September 6, 2022
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Forward progress has been halted for the Franklin Fire which broke out near Rodeo in Contra Costa County on Monday evening.

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Monday evening, Michael Murphy and his wife watched fire crews battle the Franklin Fire, burning along Highway 4 in Martinez, which threatened their house and barns.

"My grandson called me. We were at Lowe's in Concord and we ran back this way. Luckily, (the fire) is not too close to the house, but it could be," explains Murphy.

The fire quickly spread to over one hundred acres, prompting evacuation warnings, including for them.

"(I got) my dogs... and anything valuable in the house, and away we went," he says.

Murphy says living out in the hills means the threat of wildfires is very real. Climate scientist Patrick Brown says, it's even greater in a heat wave like this one impacting California.

"These heat waves on the time scale of a couple of days can really drive out your fine fuels, as they call them. Fuels that kind of have small diameters. Sticks and things on the ground," explains Brown, a climate scientist at the Breakthrough Institute and a visiting scholar at San Jose State University. "That could really enhance the likelihood of ignition of a fire and make fires easier to spread."

Contra Costa County fire officials say there has been much preparation ahead of this current heat wave. Still, as Steve Hill with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District explains, most fires are caused by human activity. That means they are preventable.

RELATED: Here's where the heat shattered records on Monday, hotter temps expected Tuesday

"Often, our large fires begin along roadways and highways are because of malfunctioning vehicles. Vehicles dragging chains on trailers. Or, people in those vehicles carelessly discarding smoking materials," says Hill.

Monday evening, some neighborhoods in Pleasant Hill were hit with a blackout, impacting more than 2,000 residents, as the excessive heat continues to put huge constraints on the state's power grid.

It was 111 degrees in Walnut creek Monday evening. Despite the triple-digit heat, Gavin Cribe and his girlfriend, Sam Walker, decided to spend it outdoors.

They wanted to spend their final few hours together before she drives back to college.

"It is very hot out here!," says Cribe. "Even if it is hot, you got to enjoy it."

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