Cal Fire: Red Flag Warnings are Equivalent to Tornado, Hurricane Warnings

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EL DORADO COUNTY — Some of Northern California’s deadliest fires happen in the fall.

Wind, humidity and dry fuels also play into the decision to call a Red Flag Warning. The current warning is in effect until Wednesday morning.

“A Red Flag Warning is the equivalent of a tornado or hurricane warning,” Cal Fire spokesman Brice Bennett said. “We really want the public to take it seriously.”

PG&E, which was roundly criticized by some foothill residents for turning off the power to 59,000 customers during high wind conditions, says conditions this week aren’t quite the same as they were two weeks ago when it chose to cut electrical power.

“As of right now, we do not see the weather conditions that would warrant a public safety power shut off,” PG&E spokeswoman Brandi Merlo said. “Again, the public safety shutoff is really designed as a last case scenario.”

But that isn’t to say the utility isn’t on heightened alert.

“Wind events can be dynamic and conditions can change quickly,” Merlo said.

The areas PG&E keeps its eyes on are danger areas determined by a California Public Utilities Commission fire risk maps. Those areas happen to fall within the area under this week’s Red Flag Warning.

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