10,000 goats helping prevent Bay Area wildfires as May fires signal early, dangerous season

Laura Anthony Image
ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Sunday, May 23, 2021
How 10,000 goats are helping prevent Bay Area wildfires
It's go-time for these goats, as they play a key role in a fire season that's heating up, months ahead of schedule.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- It's go-time for these goats as they play a key role in a fire season that's heating up, months ahead of schedule.

With fires like this eight-acre event in Antioch--on a May day that wasn't particularly warm--all signs are pointing to a fire season that's approaching its peak way too early.

WILDFIRE TRACKER: Interactive map shows where wildfires are burning in CA

"We are experiencing fire danger and fire behavior that we don't normally see until June or July," said Contra Costa County Fire District Battalion Chief Kevin Platt.

The Contra Costa Fire District is ramping up with ongoing wildfire training and the hiring of separate hand crews to supplement those provided by CALFIRE. The goal--to be ready now.

"The dry winter, coupled with several previous dry winters, early high temperatures, windy conditions," explained Platt. "Fire season's early."

Goats R Us has changed it's model dramatically to meet the need, now 10,000 strong, with herds of animals working throughout the East Bay to reduce grasses and fuels that can help turn a small fire into a devastating firestorm.

"The number of people using the goats has certainly ramped up," Terri Oyarzun, owner of Goats R Us. "They may be people who have steep hillsides, a lot of open space. They don't want to use machinery, herbicides, chemical means of dealing with it."

In Contra Costa County, the heightened fire danger comes as a deadline is approaching for property owners to manage their vegetation.

"Defensible space, anything dry or dead around their house, the vegetation has a significant impact on how ferocious and fast a fire can spread," said Platt.