Fire officials, meteorologists want Northern Californians to prepare for Fire Weather Watch

California Connection

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The days are getting shorter and the nights a little cooler, which may give many a false sense of security when it comes to fire danger.

“We’re going to be in high fire danger until we get a good soaking rain that persists for several days, at the very least,” said Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Capt. Chris Vestal.

Capt. Vestal just spent three weeks providing mutual aid on the Creek Fire south of Yosemite.

“We’re still at critically low fuel moistures,” he explained. “Eighty degrees, or even 90 degrees, like we’re going to see over the next several days is still very, very hot weather for fire conditions.”

The top three most destructive fires in state history broke out in October or November, and all were in Northern California.

Combined, those three fires destroyed more than 27,000 structures and killed 132 people.

When the Camp Fire broke out in Butte County on a November morning, the temperature outside was in the 50s. But gusty winds, low humidity and dry timber were enough to fuel a devastating wildfire.

“At the site, we had winds that were registering 70 to 80-plus miles per hour,” Vestal said. 

This week’s approaching wind may not be that strong but there is enough concern that the National Weather Service in Sacramento issued a Fire Weather Watch.

“Early Wednesday morning through Friday morning for much of interior Northern California. And this is for gusty winds and low humidity,” said NWS meteorologist Idamis Del Valle.

Del Valle said the watch will likely be upgraded to a Red Flag Warning.

“After coordination with neighboring offices, if there is high confidence that those gusty winds and low humidity will bring critical fire weather conditions,” Del Valle said.

Officials say people need to know their wildfire risk and have an emergency plan ready to go. 

“What we need from the public is to make sure that they aren’t creating sparks or having open flame near any vegetation. Think about the power equipment you use,” Vestal said. “Any kind of open flames like fire pits or campfires, just don’t have them. That’s the best advice.”

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