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Strong North Coast winds fan fires, down power lines

  • Fire spreads int to the flatlands near Petaluma Hill Road during fire that Started in the Crane Canyon Regional Park, Friday Oct. 4, 2013 in Rohnert Park. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Two days of strong, dry winds on the North Coast fanned fires and downed power lines and tree branches in Sonoma County.

A wind-fed, 159-acre vegetation fire burned in Crane Creek Regional Park east of Rohnert Park Friday afternoon, Cal Fire said. Seven fire agencies responded to the blaze on Pressley Road at 12:52 p.m.

Three air tankers and a helicopter supported ground crews, Cal Fire spokeswoman Tiffany Mercado said. No structures were threatened by the fire on the western slope of Sonoma Mountain, she said, and the cause had not been determined.

Crane Creek Regional Park Fire

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"It was wind driven," she said. "The wind pushes the fire in dry vegetation. It's perfect conditions for fire to spread." The fire was 75 percent contained Friday evening, she said.

Another large fire near Lake Berryessa in Napa County burned 376 acres, according to Cal Fire. It started Thursday and crews had it contained on Friday evening.

The National Weather Service on Thursday issued a red flag warning and a high-wind advisory for the North Bay on Thursday. Such alerts warn firefighters that dry, windy weather could fuel fires.

Cal Fire said it had placed additional firefighters on duty to deal with what was expected to be a period of heightened fire danger. The agency urged people to be cautious when using yard equipment that could spark dry grass and advised people to mow lawns in the early morning or late evening.

National Weather Service meteorologist Larry Smith said the blustery conditions would last until Saturday morning.

"The wind advisory tells you that the wind is going to be strong enough to be annoying, blowing over garbage cans and knocking down tree limbs," he said. "Power lines can get tangled. Use caution when driving."

Winds averaged 30 mph with gusts up to 52 mph at Sonoma County Airport Thursday night, Smith said.


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