Fire Season Continues as Temps, Winds Heat up

Usually by mid-November fire season is over, however the
National Weather Service issued a red flag warning
Gilroy – As the fire season winds down, fire weather watches are heating up, causing The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to maintain staffing levels through the end of the week.

CDF officials declared the fire season over for much of the state Monday, however, the National Weather Service issued red flag warnings from midnight Monday to 6pm Tuesday for Santa Clara County, keeping firefighters on high alert.

The combination of warm temperatures, low relative humidity and strong winds creates dangerous conditions where the potential for explosive fire growth is great.

Usually by mid-November fire season is over, however, with wind gusts expected to reach more than 50mph in the hills Monday and no rain forecasted through next weekend – all 12 fire engines, three bulldozers and helicopter will remain fully staffed until the ground is saturated with rain.

“By measurable precipitation, we like at least an inch,” said Steve Espe, fire prevention bureau chief of the South County division. “Right now we’re playing a little roulette … The condition of fuels has not changed at all.”

According to Espe, fuel moisture is at 62 percent. Conditions are considered critical at 60 percent.

“Once you factor the wind into the equation, then it was determined that we needed to sustain current staffing,” he said. “What concerns me is the live stuff – the stuff that looks green.”

The areas that are most vulnerable are in the northeast corner of Santa Clara County, the east side of Alameda County and in Contra Costa County.

By the end of the week, CDF will be operating on next year’s budget.

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