North Bay wind advisory for Friday night into Saturday

- Wind advisories are in effect for the North and East Bay hills Friday night into Saturday, at higher elevations. 

The surging winds triggered an emotional response in firestorm survivors, and a practical one at firehouses. 

Santa Rosa's stations geared up Friday, loading wildland equipment- hoses and protective hear- on to their rigs. Most likely, that's where it will stay for the coming months. 

"The potential is out there and wind always makes things worse," Santa Rosa Fire Battalion Chief Matt Dahl told KTVU, driving through the Fountain Grove neighborhood checking wind conditions. 

Fire factors that October night last year created the perfect storm: dry fuels, low humidity, and howling wind that brought power lines down, throwing sparks. 

The current wind advisory predicts sustained winds of 20-35 mph and gusts up to 50 mph. That's not as severe as October, and conditions are also moist this early in the season. 

"This is becoming the new normal, that we don't really have a fire season because fires are happening all year long, " said Calfire Capt. Amy Head.

Head notes Calfire is staffing up earlier and will keep crews longer. It has also added more prescribed burns, thinning vegetation for less intense fires. And it wants fire-prevention from the public too. 

"They need to make sure they're preparing their properties and maintaining defensible space around their homes, limbing up trees, brush, dead and dying vegetation," advised Head. 

In neighborhoods hit by the fires, the wind creates a sense of unease. "It kind of makes me a little nervous, brings back some memories," said Justin Murazzo, playing basketball with his sons on his driveway Friday evening. 

His family fled as fire approached, and returned to find their house intact. But so much of their neighborhood- Hidden Valley Estates- was not.

"It was such a traumatic situation for everyone in the area, so i think it's a very natural feeling to be nervous," he said. 

Fire crews understand that concern.  

"Day or nights like this, we get a lot more smoke-checks or fire- checks because people are worried.
Any gusts can seem reminiscent of "those" winds

"Those were winds you could hear and feel, they were pushing my vehicle around," recalled Dahl, "and burning things, because of the wind, in ways that it never would otherwise."    

A helpless feeling, he admits. 

"It really was, pretty horrific, and I'd never seen anything like that before."
Before the weather really heats up, residents are advised to sign up for community alerts, create an evacuation plan, and pack a go-bag, to be ready for any disaster, including wildfire 
 

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