Dry conditions in North Bay fuel fears of an early fire season – CBS San Francisco

SANTA ROSA (KPIX) – The rain we’re hoping for in February is nowhere in sight and fire danger is increasing as many parts of California see fuel moisture levels drop to summertime levels.

Fire season has yet to officially begin in Santa Rosa, but as long as these dry conditions continue, North Bay could see the start of fire season sooner rather than later.

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Those taking advantage of the mild weather in downtown Santa Rosa are certainly concerned about the lack of rain.

“I went out the other day and smelled a little smoke and the wind and you’re starting to get worried,” says Santa Rosa resident Tracy Lehmann.

The Santa Rosa Fire Department is closely monitoring drought conditions.

“Without the rain, they don’t absorb that moisture, so with the lack of rain and the dry conditions, these heavier fuels reach record moisture levels for this time of year,” says division manager Paul Lowenthal, Santa Rosa’s Fire Marshal.

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The department has already started reaching out to the community trying to spread the word about fire safety, especially with the threat of a fire so early in the year.

“Admittedly, we’re not expecting any large scale large fires, but we had the potential for some sort of fire activity, especially with the drought conditions and some of the windy conditions we’re going to encounter,” says Chef Lowenthal.

The hope is that the rain will come in March and April to push back the official start of the fire season to its typical early June time. But without another major storm, 2022 could set a record for the first ever fire season, beating the start of last year in early May.

“Kind of like last year where we had a big storm in December and November that nothing,” said Lance Lehmann, another Santa Rosa resident.

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Chief Lowenthal says after seeing consecutive years of deadly and devastating fires, it was less severe last year. He credits the partnership he had with the community to create this defensible space around their homes.

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