Fire-season fatigued North Bay residents face new threats from lightning

There was a sense of apprehension in Marin County as the forecast for thunderstorms and the bone-dry vegetation are raising fire safety concerns.

In the small town of Woodacre, a baseball field illustrates the impact of drought.

Bolinas resident Pamela Springer described it as, "Dry straw, just waiting to catch fire really." 

On Thursday evening, she watched her 10-year-old son practice baseball, but her mind was on fire danger.

 "It's definitely there in the back of my head. My son's scared. I assured him that even if it does happen we'll just get out of there."

 Red flag warning signs are up along a major thoroughfare.

 "You're on constant alert. You just have to make sure everything's ready to go," Maria Craft-Neto of San Rafael says as she took a stroll with her son and grandson. 

 The family says they're ready to evacuate if necessary.

 "We love it. It's beautiful. If offers so much. But this time of year, it's scary now," says Pablo Pieres DeAlmida of Woodacre.  

 Nearby at the Marin County Fire headquarters,  crews are preparing hoses and other equipment, ready to respond.

Fire officials say conditions are ripe for extreme fire behavior: bone dry vegetation  and now, the threat of thunderstorms.

 "We're at a point now where we now have almost two million acres burning and it's requiring an extremely large firefighting force," Battalion Chief Jeremey Pierce says some firefighters are working 40 plus days without time off.

 "With an incoming lighting event and ongoing fires burning throughout the state, it's really taxed, all our  resources throughout the entire state. It's extremely troublesome for us," Pierce says still, there is enough staffing so there should be no impact on response times. "All our stations are covered. All our engines are covered. It's all hands on deck for 24 hours a day until there's an end in sight and that's the rain." 

 "I'd like to be hopeful that this winter will be really rainy things will go back to normal, but I don't know if that's really going to be what's happening," says Springer.

 Pierce says the demand on staffing has been ongoing since June, and that the objective of the crews is to keep every fire they fight small, i

That way, they won't have a major fire on their hands.