Firefighters warn wildfire risk still high despite time of year

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The threat of wildfires in California is once again very high as more dry, windy conditions are expected the rest of the week. 

Firefighters are warning that means everyone needs to be on guard the next couple of days. 

“We’re seeing winds that are a little bit stronger than were forecast or expected for at least today,” said Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Capt. Chris Vestal. 

Vestal said while the temperatures may be dropping, the risk for a wildfire is definitely not. 

“We think that because it’s October, because we’re moving into this cold holiday season, it’s time to start grilling … or we can do yard work again,” Vestal told FOX40. “But on these Red Flag days, we have humidity that’s about 10%, we have strong winds about 20 mph right now. And even though the temperatures are, in fact, a little bit cooler, there is still vegetation that’s ready to receive any spark. And if it does, there will be a quickly spreading wildfire nearly anywhere in Northern California right now.”

So, the fire department is gearing up for what could a busy few days. 

“We’re watching the weather. We’re enhancing dispatches on Red Flag days,” Vestal explained. “We have our helicopters and bulldozers staffed. So, we’ll respond rapidly and quickly and appropriately to any report of a vegetation fire throughout the Sacramento region.” 

But there are things people can do to help. 

Firefighters always promote defensible space around homes. Vestal said residents really need to wait until spring to do the yard work of clearing brush and weeds safely. 

“As we move on without any periods of rain, and that can go all the way until December and even January as we’ve seen in recent years, the vegetation continues to dry out,” Vestal said. “It’s less dependent on temperature; it’s more dependent on how much precipitation that we’ve received.” 

Vestal also had some advice about calling 911 to report a fire. 

“Call 911. The worst thing you can do is assume that somebody else did. What if they made that same assumption?” Vestal said. 

Pacific Gas and Electric has told nine counties across Northern California that it is cutting electricity through Friday to prevent its power lines from starting fires if they were to be damaged by wind. 

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