California firefighters fought against a Big Basin Redwoods State Park wildfire on Sunday as powerful offshore winds increased the possibility of wildfires in the region.
Officials put up a red flag warning for the Central Valley and a part of the Bay Area’s Solano County which will be in effect until 5:00 p.m. Tuesday. Residents can experience north winds of 15 to 20 mph in speed with gusts of 40 mph. The National Weather Service said that wildfires could start more easily due to the conditions.
Experts anticipate that humidity levels in the area will plummet despite the offshore winds. They also said Northern California and Bay Area residents will experience temperatures about 15 degrees higher than average on Monday and Tuesday. Residents can expect temperatures in the 80s and lower 90s in inland highs. Coastal spots, on the other hand, can see mostly 60s and 70s.
On Sunday, the Basin Fire started at about noon near the Hihn Hammon Truck Trail near an area that the CZU Lightning Complex fires burned last year. CAL Fire Unit Ian Larkin called the starting area of the Basin fire a “sleeper spot.”
“It’s an area where a root or some material continued to burn through this entire time. It finally found a receptive fuel bed,” Larkin said.
On Sunday, firefighters were able to stop the fire from advancing further and fully containing it at 6.7 acres the night after. CAL Fire spokesperson Cecile Juliette said since January 1, a helicopter was needed to douse seven wildfires in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
“The dry conditions and the very poor fuel moisture recovery over the last six or eight months and the lack of rain we’ve had and also the continued drought have put us in a position where our fuel moistures are very dry and we’re experiencing conditions that we would normally experience later in the summer in June and July and it’s only the beginning of May,” said Juliette.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been 55 fires reported in the region compared to only 18 at the same time last year. Larkin considered the surge of incidents a significant increase, the San Francisco Gate reported.
On Sunday, Vacaville firefighters responded to a grass fire near Travis Air Force Base in Solano County. Californians experienced the worst fire season in history last year with a record 4.2 million acres burned and 31 fatalities. The August Lightning Complex was the state’s first “gigafire” which burned more than one million acres.
While CAL Fire remains unsure whether 2021 will be worse than last year in terms of the fire season, the agency has already fought off 1,354 wildfires that burned a total of 2,219 acres since the beginning of the year.