By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

Though wildfires know no season, as we approach the summer and Fall months, we will hear more Red Flag Warnings issued by local fire departments and news media. It is important to know who and why determines these days as well as what to do.

The National Weather Service Issues Red Flag Warnings & Fire Weather Watches to alert fire departments of the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity. We in turn notify the media to get the message out.

A Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours. A Fire Weather Watch is issued when weather conditions could exist in the next 12-72 hours. A Red Flag Warning is the highest alert. During these times extreme caution is urged by all residents because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire. A Fire Weather Watch is one level below a warning, but fire danger is still high.


The type of weather patterns that can cause a watch or warning include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes, or any combination of the above.

Wildfires impact everyone regardless of where you live. When a wildfire develops resources from all areas from the mountains to the sea are trained and support one another through our mutual aid system. Until personnel are recalled to back-fill stations responding to wildfires there could be a slight delay for medical, vehicle, structure fires. Not to mention everyone suffers from the harmful effects wildfire smoke which can last for days, weeks and longer.

It hits your pocketbook. Fighting wildfires in America can cost federal agencies billions of dollars. Wildland fires are growing worse in a time of drought and climate change, and the biggest and most destructive fires can’t be stopped. They are a force of nature: imagine trying to stop a hurricane.

During heightened fire danger, fire departments will place additional firefighters on duty, staff more engines, increase patrols and keep more equipment on 24 hours a day to be able to respond to any new fires. CAL FIRE and all fire agencies urge Californians to be extremely cautious, especially during periods of high fire danger. It’s important all residents and visitors take steps to prevent wildfires. One less spark could mean one less wildfire. Here are some tips on preventing wildfires; and what to do when a Red Flag Warning is issued;

We’ll do our part in protecting our communities, please do your part. Together, we can prevent, mitigate, and reduce the number of wildfires impacting all of us!

Contributing source: Cal Fire