Public Safety Power Shutoffs possible this weekend as the Bay Area faces early autumn heat wave

The approaching weekend heat wave is putting first responders on alert, especially in the North Bay and the counties north of them. Wind-driven events have a way of spreading their influence and threat well beyond original predictions.

The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for the North Bay and the inland East Bay beginning Saturday evening at nine and lasting until 8 a.m. Monday. On mountain peaks, winds could gust to 50 miles an hour. All this raises a quadruple threat.

Intense winds can whip otherwise controllable fires into firestorms.

"We're taking initiatives to staff up our engines that we currently have in the Sonoma Lake Napa," said Tyree Zander of Cal Fire. "We'll be putting additional staffing out and that's gonna go across the board."

"Our house is right behind a hill, so it's something we definitely think about when the high winds do come. We make sure to water down our back yard," said Jessica Beaule, a parent who we met at Heather Farms Park.

And, that raises the somewhat unlikely specter of potential Bay Area Public Safety Power Shutoffs, but a potential already real for three Sierra foothills counties.

"Weather is constantly changing and so we do have a team of meteorologists standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to make sure they are monitoring the changes, to see what the trends in the weather are and to see if we need to make any adjustments," said PG&E spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian.

Prevailing winds could pump a lot of unhealthy levels of wildfire smoke back into the the Bay Area forcing even more hunkering down. "It was hard on me but I think it was harder on the children. With COVID-19 and them being inside anyways, not having the fresh air to even go in the back yard was hard on them," said Beaule. 

Finally, heat, of over a hundred degrees on Sunday and Monday, will hit many areas in the East Bay and South Bay valleys, with temperatures in the nineties most other places in the region. "Usually October and November we get the wind events and with those wind events they will push the fires into extreme behaviors," said Cal Fire's Zander.

PG&E also release an after action report on September 7th PSPS events. In areas it de-energized it says it found eighty incidents of damage or tree/powerline contact that could have started a fire.