wildfire season

Forecasted Storm Could End Wildfire Season in the North Bay

NBC Universal, Inc. Crews in the North Bay have made the transition from watching for wildfires to preparing for mudslides with more rain in the forecast. Cierra Johnson reports.

The rain is great news after such a dry year and in the North Bay, if the forecasted storms deliver as expected, it could mean the end of wildfire season.

The Glass Fire in 2020 destroyed a few homes in Santa Rosa and with a series of storms lined up to pass through there this week, fire crews are changing gears from being on wildfire alert to being prepared for potentially dangerous runoff in these burn scar areas.

"So right now what we're looking at how much rain we're going to get and what this weekend is actually looking like,” said Chief Paul Lowenthal of the Santa Rosa Fire Department. “And hopefully be able to officially declare the end of fire season here locally."

The Public Works sandbag station is already set up for residents to shore up their homes should they need to.

So far, the downpours have been just right -- nothing too heavy. But emergency crews are keeping a cautious eye on the Sunday storm.

"That's where we start to actually go from being glad to see the rain to not necessarily as thrilled at that level of intensity and that much rain, especially in our burn scars,” said Lowenthal.

The series of storms have PG&E on alert. There have already been a few power outages from the rain we got last weekend. 

On Wednesday night, more than 11,000 customers all across the Bay Area were without power

"Especially after we've had a drought or very dry year, there's been a lot of dirt and salt and dust that's accumulated on the power lines, and when you combine that with water, it becomes mud, which is very conductive to electricity,” said PG&E Spokesperson, Evelyn Escalera. 

PG&E said its crews are dealing with those outages as quickly as possible. 

Lowenthal says all of their fire trucks are getting loaded up with swift water rescue equipment this week just in case they see flash flooding later this weekend.

It's a quick change in their mission -- just weeks ago they were concerned about red flag fire conditions.