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First days of fall bring elevated risk of fire, planned power outage

Summer has given way to autumn, according to the calendar, but the first few days of fall are set to be some of Santa Rosa’s hottest of the year and bring with them a high risk of fire threat.

The National Weather Service is projecting a high of 89 on Monday, the first official day of fall, followed by back-to-back daytime trips into the upper 90s: 97 on Tuesday and 96 on Wednesday.

The high temperatures, along with low humidity and expected gusts of up to 40 mph in the North Bay’s hills and mountains, prompted the weather service to issue a red-flag warning Sunday afternoon. Warning conditions will be in effect from 9 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Wednesday, the weather service said.

The hot, dry, windy weather also put PG&E on alert. The utility’s forecast for potential shut-offs to prevent its equipment from starting wildfires put Santa Rosa in the part of its electric service territory that faced an “elevated” potential for a planned outage from Monday through Wednesday.

Thursday’s forecast calls for some relief, with a more seasonable projected high of 82. Highs are expected to drop further on Friday to near 76 and 71 on Saturday, while the end of the week will bring a chance of showers, according to the weather service.

A few signs of fall could be found Sunday in the North Bay, such as the Pronzini Pumpkin Patch in Petaluma, where preparations for a haunted creek trail foretold the impending Halloween season.

With temperatures in the 80s for most of the afternoon and not a drop of rain to be found in Santa Rosa’s Howarth Park, it was a good day for Teri Turner of Bennett Valley to take her 4-year-old daughter to Lake Ralphine.

“Just to get her outside for some fresh air while we still can,” Turner said, referring to the eventual return of rain that comes with summer’s end.

On a different part of the lake, Jason Asch of Santa Rosa offered pointers to his 9-year-old son, who fitted worms onto his fishing hook in hopes of snaring bluegill.

Asch was a little more ready for the late-year rains that will inevitably start several weeks from now, explaining that his work of pouring concrete is no fun on hot days. He’s also looking forward to doing some fishing of his own for steelhead trout in the Russian River.

He urged his son to yank the rod back enough to set his hook and acknowledged that as long as the weather was warm and dry, he’d be at Lake Ralphine “as much as he can get me here.”

You can reach Staff Writer Will Schmitt at 707-521-5207 or will.schmitt@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @wsreports.

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