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    Here's how Bay Area fire crews are prepping for wildfire season this year

    2024-06-10

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1jgvy2_0tmDf4BL00

    Sunday crews were fighting back flames in yet another early-season wildfire.

    Sunday in Pittsburg, a fire spread more than 50 acres.

    "We lost everything. Forty years of history was lost today," said Dianna Schepers of the Pittsburg Theater Company.

    The fire destroyed a theater company's warehouse.

    RELATED: Firefighters battle 55-acre Pittsburg vegetation fire

    "Where we store all of our sets and props, costumes, sound equipment, lighting equipment went up in flames today for a reason we don't know. They're investigating right now," Schepers said.

    "We had a structure fire that quickly spread into vegetation. Crews had to pivot and change their tactic from a structure fire response to a wildfire response," said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Josh Silveira.

    The Bay Area has seen a handful of grass fires over the past week, including the Crystal Fire near St. Helena, spreading 60 acres and prompting evacuations. Crews were battling in 100-degree heat.

    "We had the heatwave last week. We got more heat ahead of us in the next couple of days. And so, there is a potential for that. The fuels across the landscape are going to be receptive to fire," said Jason Clay, spokesperson for CAL FIRE's Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit.

    RELATED: Crews battle fire that has burned at least 60 acres in St. Helena, CAL FIRE says

    The unit covers six counties and Clay says they're upping staff.

    "We've actually elevated our staffing levels a couple of weeks early. So we have reached our peak staffing levels, and that's just based on the conditions and the activity that we started to see recently," Clay said.

    And he says CAL FIRE units throughout the state are following suit.

    "You'll start to see that all across California, that we're amping up our staffing levels, and we're having all of our resources ready to respond to fires," Clay said.

    MORE: CAL FIRE trains seasonal firefighting force in North Bay to gear up for 2024 wildfire season

    Meanwhile in Santa Rosa, Monday marks the official start of the wildfire season.

    "With just the conditions and how dry things are, and the increase in fire activity -- that prompted the declaration and is really the time we want to see those properties come into compliance with our weed abatement ordinance. That will ultimately help make our community much safer as we move into the summer," said Paul Lowenthal, division chief of the Santa Rosa Fire Department.

    And for better or worse, he's expecting the wet winter to make a major impact this season.

    "Fortunately, with how much rainfall we did get, that will help keep our heavier fuels, our brush and timber not as receptive to that fire spread," Lowenthal said. "But I do think unfortunately we'll see a lot more grass fires this year."

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