By Kathy Chouteau
Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) announced today it has reduced initial vegetation fire responses to a single fire engine, signaling the end of heightened fire danger. The decision was prompted by recent ground-soaking rain storms and the anticipation of future ones, said Con Fire.
This year’s seasonal fire danger period was first announced May 1 and continued for 193 days.
Most wildfires this year were contained to 10 acres or less, said Con Fire, which attributed fire service preparation, resident cooperation, early reporting and rapid responses as game changers in the battle to mitigate impacts of wildfires.
Con Fire reported that, by October’s end, it had dispatched crews to about 1,528 grass and other exterior fires. Fires exceeding 10 acres of burned area included a grass fire in Clyde in June and another in Pittsburg in early July, both of which scorched 40 acres each. Other fires, including one in Antioch in April and one in Martinez in May burned a total of 12 and 25 acres respectively.
Wind-fueled grass fires spread into seven apartment buildings or single family homes during the wildfire period this year, said Con Fire, causing at least 66 people to be displaced from their residences. One incident—a grass fire sparked by illegal fireworks—resulted in 40 Antioch residents being displaced. The other wind-driven fires caused residential displacements in Martinez, Walnut Creek, and again, in Antioch.
The Red Cross offered temporary housing and other essential assistance to 357 residents due to 60 separate fire incidents in Con Fire communities this year, said the district.
Fire Chief Lewis Broschard of Con Fire cautioned residents that “fire risks in Contra Costa County are no less than surrounding counties” and underscored that nearly year-round fire danger exists here. He urged residents to practice fire safety and to prepare for spring by doing “weed abatement and defensible space creation around their properties.”
Learn more about wildfire safety here.