The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) has increased staffing and has been coordinating with local fire agencies in pre-positioning fire resources in critical areas, according to a statement released by the agency on Saturday.
The NWS expects winds to range from 20-30 mph, with gusts of up to 70 mph. The winds off the Northern California shore may be the strongest of the year, the NWS said.
Cal Fire has asked residents in Red Flag areas to remain vigilant to prevent accidentally sparking a wildfire. Extremely dry, windy conditions with high gusts can damage trees and power lines and ignite fires in dry regions.
“PG&E’s meteorology team is tracking perhaps the strongest offshore wind event of the season,” PG&E spokesperson Lynsey Paulo said in a recorded video message. “These conditions pose an increased risk of damage to our electric systems which have the potential to ignite fires.”
PG&E’s power shutoff is expected to affect nearly 500,000 customers in 38 counties in Sacramento Valley, Northern and Central Sierra, parts of the Bay Area, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Central Coast Region and portions of southern Kern County, according to a news release by PG&E.
The planned shutoff is set to begin Sunday morning and will occur in stages. It is expected to end Sunday evening, Paulo said.
Heat waves and droughts in the West pose risk of wildfires
Drought, strong winds, dry vegetation and above average temperatures have persisted this fall in the West, elevating critical fire weather conditions across much of the region.
The East Troublesome Fire located near Grimes Peak in the Arapaho National Forest has burned more than 170,000 acres and is only 5% contained. Evacuations are continuing across Grand County.
There are currently 5,300 firefighters working to reach full containment on 21 wildfires in California, 12 of which are considered major incidents, according to a statement released by Cal Fire on Saturday.