CAL FIRE, LOCAL AGENCIES: VIGILANCE NEEDED AS HEAT, FIRE RISK ON RISE OVER HOLIDAY WEEKEND

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State and regional fire agencies are cautioning the public to play it safe over the upcoming long Memorial Day Weekend.

The combination of rising temperatures and historically low soil and fuel moisture levels for late May have set the stage for explosive wildland fire danger across Northern California,.

From Thursday onward, the National Interagency Fire Center predicts the fire danger to increase dramatically across the region as fine fuels further cure, and heavier fuels lose what remaining moisture they have. (Images 1, 2, 3 and 4)

By Monday temperatures across the Santa Rosa plain will near 100 degrees, with even hotter temperatures expected further inland in areas away from the coast. (Image 5)

This comes as the National Drought Monitor has increased the amount of California in “exceptional drought,” including most of the North Bay. (Images 6 and 7)

One piece of good news is that no dangerous offshore wind events are forecast over the coming 5 days. Still, fire officials statewide say fuel dryness will cause any new starts to “flash” and potentially move quickly from fine fuels to trees and shrubs.

That was the worry on Wednesday as three separate grass fires across the county grew quickly but were contained before reaching heavier fuels. This small blaze in the northern Sonoma Valley near Melita Road was contained at about 1/2 acre. (Images 8 and 9)

Even small measures could make a big difference say officials. That includes not mowing during the heat of the day, and securing tow chains that could cause sparks to jump from the roadway to dry vegetation. And, of course, the use of open flames like campfires is prohibited across all of the North Bay region.

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