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

Lauren Martinez Image
Saturday, October 28, 2023
High fire danger in Bay Area this weekend: What to know
A mild fire season this year could change with the first Red Flag Warning issued throughout the Bay Area this weekend.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A mild fire season this year could change with the first Red Flag Warning issued throughout the Bay Area this weekend.

The month of October is known for producing catastrophic wildfires.

PG&E says they're increasing their staff this weekend but they're not anticipating any Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

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

Tony Marks-Block is an Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at Cal State East Bay.

"This kind of wind event is something that happens routinely this time of year," Marks-Block said.

This weekend, the National Weather Service says there is less concern for dense areas from recent rains and the cool summer.

"The soil is not saturated, but it is moist and wet," Marks-Block said.

But there is much more concern for finer, grassier spaces.

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"Grass being a type of fuel that can burn very quickly and so that's where I think people should be most cautious," Marks-Block said.

Marks-Block says this year more prescribed burns should be happening.

"I think we're seeing a bit of a clash when it comes to the needs of industrial agricultural interest or business interest. So a gradual re-learning of what a prescribed fire is, the amount of smoke that it produces, is not going to ruin a harvest compared to the amount of smoke that is produced by a very large wildfire. And it's inevitable that very large wildfires will occur if we do not conduct a lot of small controlled fires across the landscape," Marks-Block said.

Controlled burns create fire resilience and prevent fires from being extreme or erratic.

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"What we see is a potential window in the coming weeks if this event really dries things out to allow for more prescribed fire, and I really encourage agencies to take advantage of those windows and burn the areas that are necessary to burn," Marks-Block said.

He said it's an important thing to do and an age-old process indigenous communities have done.

Marks-Block says what should be of concern - is how much moisture is needed in the coming weeks.

"If we don't get rain for another month or so and we get more and more of these red flag events, then we should start being especially concerned that we could have disasters occur - we haven't seen since a couple years ago," Marks-Block said.

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