Supervisors Hear Warning From Contra Costa Emergency Officials About Fire Season

June 9, 2021 16:00 pm · 4 comments

by Tony Hicks – Buckle up for a bumpy second half of 2021.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday heard a report from local emergency service officials saying we should expect to not only see fires, but power outages, bone dry vegetation, smoky skies and wells drying up this year.

And that’s even if the county avoids its own devastating wildfires, the likes of which we’ve seen just outside the county in recent years.

“We know that heat, fire drought is here, it’s going to be here for the next six months, so we need to be prepared and know how that is going to affect us,” said Rick Kovar, the county emergency services manager.

National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Garcia told the board the area received about half its average annual rainfall between October 2019 and September 2020, somewhere between moderate and severe drought.

This year is going to be worse.

“So far in this water year, and we’re not going to get anymore, to be honest, we’re only at about 30 percent of average … so that puts us square in what’s called D4 of exceptional drought for Contra Costa,” Garcia said.

June temperatures are already above average, Garcia said, and odds are that won’t improve. He said it matters because hotter weather pulls more moisture from soil and vegetation.

“It’s really bad already, and we’re not even in peak fire season yet,” Gacia said, adding it’s not unreasonable to expect fires on the scale of the Oakland Hills Fire of 1991 or the Tubbs Fire of 2017.

“The only natural cause for fire starts is lightening. Everything else is human caused,” Garcia said.

Contra Costa County Deputy Fire Chief Aaron McAlister told the board that, luckily, the county has provided more mutual aid to other counties than it received in recent years. “But that risk is ever present.”

He detailed the district’s preparedness measures and training, which includes new software to help coordinate evacuations across agencies. He said much of the county will be in moderate to very high fire zones this year.

“It’s rather startling, what we’re hearing already,” said McAlister.

He warned about illegal fireworks, against which the board tightened the county ordinance on Tuesday.

Fireworks started a fire in Antioch on Memorial Day that burned down an apartment complex and displaced 30 people.

“This is not hypothetical; this is not theoretical. This is something that occurs right here in our county and is an ever-present danger for us,” he said.

Kovar said the county’s emergency footing through COVID-19 and other events of 2020 may have better prepared officials for what’s coming.

“That’s not something that we can train to, you have to experience it,” Kovar said. “But overall, I think our experiences last year helped us as a community … to be better prepared for whatever might happen next.”

Dr. Jellyfinger June 9, 2021 at 4:14 PM

If I have to suck smoke all summer like I did last year I’m gonna friggin die.
So what kind of emergency measures and dynamic action has Newsom taken to help reduce the threat of wildfires in CA. since last summer?

Cellophane June 9, 2021 at 6:37 PM

Fear-mongering at its finest.

If the China Virus didn’t get you the fires and lack of water will.

Your honestly elected government will make sure of it.

WhoDat Gurl June 10, 2021 at 8:04 AM

To the folks who throw live cigarettes out their car window, STOP SETTING OUR COUNTY ON FIRE.

Thank You,

Common Sense and Decency

Jeff (the other one) June 10, 2021 at 3:46 PM

“June temperatures are already above average, Garcia said” In the little environment of Concord, temperatures have seemed much cooler than I am used to, much cooler. Yes, there has been less rain, certainly, it seems, this past year, but 2 years ago, we had more than average rain. Read history of areas about the struggles during the 1800s due to lack of rain, hot temperatures, etc. Are they still dumping fresh water into the ocean, as they reportedly had the past several droughts?

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