Red flag fire warning raised in North Bay

Unusually high fire concerns for January spiked higher Monday with warnings of strong winds due overnight coupled with a week of possible record warm temperatures.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag watch for the North Bay hills starting Monday night through Tuesday morning. By mid morning Monday the level was bumped up to a red flag warning when the situation looked more serious.

It's high fire season in January.

Cal Fire has hired back seasonal firefighters throughout the state. Firefighting planes, typically mothballed for the winter, are ready and available in Chico for north state fires.

"I don't know of this ever happening in my career and as far as I know talking to other people, it's not something they've seen in their career," said 17-year-veteran Cal Fire Capt. Amy Head of the January conditions.

Locally, firefighters still are lugging around their high-season wildland fire gear and keeping wildland engines at the ready.

"Normally we've stored all of our wildland tools away by this time. We haven't. We're still prepared," said Cloverdale fire Battalion Chief Rick Blackmon. "It's just a real concern. We're still getting vegetation fires."

"We're in the same boat," said Geyserville fire Lt. James Tovani. "We haven't put away our gear and don't anticipate putting it away. It's bad."

The two north county agencies respond to the open, hilly and dry Mayacamas range, including The Geysers region, in their backyards.

In November a grass fire sparked in The Geysers and grew to 3,500 acres.

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