As we move into September, our district is experiencing unusual heat and dry conditions that greatly increase the risk of ignition of vegetation fires.
On the morning of September 1 at Sea Ranch in the ocean meadow west of the highway, a small ember from a little smoker BBQ on an upper deck floated up out of the BBQ, over the deck rail, and down into the meadow grass where it started a small grass fire. Fortunately the alert homeowner saw this, called immediately for help, and went to put water on the fire. A TSRA F&R employee happened to be on the same street, heard the call to 911 on his scanner, and rushed over to help the homeowner extinguish the fire, so it was out after only burning a few square feet, and before our fire trucks arrived. If the event was not witnessed, or if the wind was blowing and spread the fire quickly, this could have been far worse.
This demonstrates how severe conditions are right now. In our usual conditions, right on the coast, a small ember lifted into the air and then dropped 12 or 14 feet would likely be cooled and extinguished by our cooler air and higher humidity before hitting the ground. That is NOT the case right now. Conditions on the hillsides and further inland are even more volatile.
Please be extra alert and vigilant, and avoid activities that increase ignition risks, such as using any power tools near vegetation when it is hot and dry. Leave garden hoses attached to faucets and accessible. This would be a good time to avoid ALL open fires (even charcoal or wood chip BBQ's), and leave no gas grill unattended.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy Labor Day weekend and beyond,
- Fire Chief Bonnie Plakos