Red Flag conditions cause fires to spread at multiple Bay Area locations Sunday

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Monday, October 30, 2023
Red Flag conditions cause fires to spread in Bay Area
Strong winds from those Red Flag conditions helped to spread several fires around the Bay Area Sunday.

BENICIA, Calif. (KGO) -- Strong winds from those Red Flag conditions helped to spread several fires around the Bay Area Sunday. In the North Bay, firefighters and homeowners were watching the weather with a lot of concern.

"It's not every day you wake up and you see smoke and flames from behind the neighbor's house," said Mike Barnum from Benicia.

Mike Barnum and his neighbors woke up to a grass fire burning near Oxford Way in Benicia on Sunday.

Cal Fire said dry winds from Red Flag conditions helped push the fire to about ten acres before it was stopped by fire crews.

RELATED: 'Be vigilant': North Bay firefighters, residents ready for hazardous weather amid Red Flag Warning

"We were getting ready to go to church and decided to stay and make sure we had a go bag and dogs were taken care of, pretty alarming to see we called 911," said Barnum.

"We're really close to the refinery, so I feel anytime anything lights up over here, they're really on top of it," said homeowner Warren Sanders.

In Petaluma, firefighters were battling a blaze Sunday morning, which destroyed three barns at a fertilizer manufacturing business on Jewett Road. The fire chief says Red Flag conditions allowed the fire to jump between structures.

"It created a fast-moving fire from building to building through embers created by the fire, that's what happened today, the wind pushing the fire into other buildings," said Chief Jeff Veliquette from Rancho Adobe Fire District.

RELATED: Mild Bay Area fire season could change under Red Flag Warning this weekend

"We've been monitoring weather conditions on the valley floor and hillside communities," said Santa Rosa Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal.

Lowenthal says his department is up-staffed and ready this weekend during the red flag warning, other agencies like the Sonoma County Fire District is positioning fire engines near open space and its chopper is ready to fly, just in case.

It's a nervous weekend for Jeffrey Mclaughlin and Jerome Pinkett who live in Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove neighborhood they've lived through wildfires and evacuations before.

"This morning I said, we survived one night, we have to get through a second night you're on edge, god you don't want to go through this," said McLaughlin.

RELATED: Largest Red Flag Warning in 2 years issued this weekend as Bay Area under critical fire danger

"My concerns would be if somebody is working out in their backyard and there's a spark and winds blown like it did a couple of years ago near our house," said Pinkett.

"Best case scenario, we had a red flag warning and nothing comes of it. That would be the best at the same time, we want our community to be prepared we as fire agencies will do the same," said Lowenthal.

Officials say the causes of both fires are under investigation.

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