This July 4th holiday brings with it extreme fire danger in the East Bay, putting pressure on the already understaffed East Contra Costa Fire Department.
On Sunday, three of the department’s fire stations closed due to budget cuts, including one in Brentwood, a station in Knightsen, and a third in Bethel Island.
“We’re going to be responding the best we can, we’re also going to be depending on neighboring agencies to assist us with emergencies,” said East Contra Costa Fire Chief Hugh Henderson.
Henderson said that the department’s response times are likely to double.
A total of 15 full-time fire fighters were laid off, leaving a staff of 27 fire fighters. Despite the fact it was voters who rejected a parcel tax that would have kept the department intact, many residents are dismayed.
“There’s weeds around the house, in the back of the house, so what if that catches on fire?” longtime Brentwood resident Alicia Munoz said.
High temperatures this week, combined with the large amount of dry vegetation, creates a high risk of grass fires, according to Chief Henderson.
All fireworks, even those considered “safe and sane,” are illegal in Contra Costa County, and Henderson said he hopes people follow the law.