Firefighters on high alert as extreme fire conditions arrive earlier than normal

Local News

STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Flames quickly spread Monday in a dry field to a power pole off Del Mar Road in Stockton, just across from neighboring homes. 

“Any time there’s a dry fuel that can catch fire, there’s a risk for it to become a bigger incident,” said Waterloo Morada Fire Chief and California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Region IV Coordinator Eric Walder.

Stockton firefighters were quickly able to knock down the flames.

Walder said the high heat, low humidity and gusty winds coupled with the dry brush from the drought made the perfect conditions for fires to potentially get out of control. 

“It makes the job harder, you know, even structure fires and wildland fires,” he told FOX40.

The National Weather Service expanded the second Red Flag Warning of the year for the Sacramento Valley, Delta and the northern part of San Joaquin County another day.

Dozens of counties were also added to Governor Gavin Newsom’s drought emergency proclamation Monday, including several in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Delta region.

“This is early in the season to be seeing red flag conditions like we’re seeing in the Sacramento region,” Walder explained.

Winds 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 40 mph are expected to last until Tuesday evening. 

Walder said firefighters across the region are on alert and ready to respond. 

“You have to increase your level of preparedness and be ready at the moment’s notice for the alarm when it comes,” he said.

He said residents in the more rural parts of San Joaquin County should heed the Red Flag Warning. 

“I think residents in the rural areas need to be ready to, you know, to leave their homes at a moment’s notice if they’re given an evacuation order,” he said.

The grass fire along Del Mar Road was a reminder that everyone should be aware of the fire risk.

“Any area where there’s dry grass and vegetation has a potential for a wind-driven fire,” Walder said.

Even the smallest spark could cause a fire to spread quickly in these conditions, with dry vegetation everywhere. Cal Fire reports a 700% increase in the number of acres that have already burned this year compared to this time last year.

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