Red flag warning issued for the Bay Area

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By Bay City News Service

County officials, cities and fire agencies are urging Bay Area residents to take precautions in light of the red flag fire warnings in effect tonight through Sunday morning.

Breezy conditions and low humidity have led to very elevated fire weather concerns, with a red flag warning in effect in the Bay Area from 10 p.m. tonight to 10 a.m. Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Northerly winds of 20 to 35 mph can be expected with local gusts exceeding 50 mph likely, according to weather officials. Relative humidity readings of 10 to 20 percent are forecast for Saturday afternoon, while humidity values of 10 to 30 percent are expected Saturday night.

In response, burning is suspended in Napa County through Monday, officials from the Napa County Office of Emergency Services said today.

Winds may result in fallen branches or trees on the roadways, and residents should drive with caution, county officials said. County personnel will monitor conditions throughout the weekend.

The Berkeley Fire Department has reported that the city will experience elevated fire danger starting tonight, and urges citizens in the city to use extreme caution.

Caution is especially important in the hills, fire officials said. People in and around the hills are encouraged to park in their driveways or garages, leaving the streets clear for emergency vehicles.

Anyone operating a barbeque grill, power equipment or another heat source such as an idling car is advised to use extreme caution. The fire department noted that fireworks are completely forbidden in the city and surrounding areas.

Cal Fire's Santa Clara unit noted that the red flag warning could be extended if conditions meet thresholds. The strongest winds are expected for the North Bay mountains, the East Bay hills and the Diablo range, the Santa Clara unit said.

In preparation for the forecasted wind this weekend, Cal Fire has pre-positioned additional air and ground resources in the Santa Clara unit and surrounding region, fire officials said.

However, responders need everyone to do their part, Cal Fire said. The agency is encouraging residents not to burn outside, to use power equipment safely in areas with vegetation and use mechanized equipment carefully.