“This is really unprecedented for January,” said Fire Chief Jason Weber.
On the afternoon of Jan. 5, 16 strike team members and three fire line supervisors from Marin brought five engines up to the Red fire in the Lost Coast area of Humboldt County. A few hours later, the 14-member Tam Fire crew was dispatched to the Campbell fire in the Lassen National Forest in Tehama County. In both cases, the Marin crews are working in conjunction with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, aka CalFire, and other agencies. Combined, the two fires are nearly 1,000 acres as of Jan. 6.
Deputy Fire Chief Mark Brown said Marin County Fire has sent personnel and resources out of the county during the winter, but it has always been to Southern California where it is traditionally drier than the Cascade Range and Coastal Range in Northern California. He said he would not be surprised if CalFire brings back its seasonal firefighting crews to augment staffing until wet weather arrives.
“This fire up in Humboldt is big even by summertime standards for that area of the state,” Brown said. “Humboldt is a very wet area, but we have had a persistent high-pressure system with really low humidity for an extended period of time, so it’s bringing all the fuels to the point where they are available to burn.”
In Marin, residents and visiting hikers should be wary of
the dry conditions, Brown said.
“When they’re out and about, their habits should be just like it would be during the summertime months, especially around Mount Tam where the brush is about the driest it’s been for a January,” he said. “We are making sure our staffing is where it needs to be given the existing burning conditions.”