The first Red Flag Warning issued for the Bay Area this weekend might change the course of this year’s mild fire season. The month of October is notorious for causing devastating wildfires.
PG&E says they’ll be increasing their workforce this weekend, but they don’t expect any Public Safety Power Outages.
Cal State East Bay’s Tony Marks-Block is an Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies.
“This kind of wind event is something that happens routinely this time of year,” she said.
The National Weather Service says the recent rains and chilly summer are less of a risk for populated regions this weekend.
“The soil is not saturated, but it is moist and wet,” remarked Marks-Block.
However, there is a lot greater worry for finer, grassier spaces.
“Grass being a type of fuel that can burn very quickly and so that’s where I think people should be most cautious,” she said.
According to Marks-Block, more prescribed burns should occur this year.
“I believe we are witnessing a bit of a clash between the needs of industrial agricultural interest and business interest.” So, relearning what a prescribed fire is and the quantity of smoke it creates would not spoil a harvest when compared to the amount of smoke produced by a major wildfire. And really major flames are unavoidable if we don’t conduct a lot of minor controlled fires over the area,” Marks-Block said.
Controlled burns increase fire resilience and prevent intense or unpredictable fires.
“What we see is a potential window in the coming weeks if this event really dries things out to allow for more prescribed fire, and I really encourage agencies to take advantage of those windows and burn the areas that are necessary to burn,” she added.
He stated that it is an important step that indigenous communities have taken for centuries.
What should be concerned, according to Marks-Block, is how much rainfall is required in the coming weeks.
“If we don’t get rain for an additional month or so and we get more and more of these alarming events, then we should start being especially cautious that we could have disasters occur – we haven’t seen since a couple years ago,” Ms. Marks-Block said.