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Parks, Open Space Return to Normal After Red-Flag Fire Warning

Some roads were closed and permits nullified late Friday and early Saturday because of wildfire threat, but Marin County Fire lifted the warning at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Thunder and lighting that passed through some Bay Area spots on Friday night prompted red-flag fire warning and led to limited-use conditions at many parks and open spaces areas, including Mount Tamalpais State Park in Marin County.

By 11 a.m. Saturday, the Marin County Fire Department lifted the red-flag conditions and allowed normal use to resume, according to Battalion Chief Mike Giannini.

“We advise the parks that we’re not extending the warning past 11, and then it’s up to them to make a determination from there,” he said.

The National Weather Service said low humidity and high winds prompted dangerous conditions and caused the red-flag warning. There were lightning strikes in the East Bay and South Bay hills and isolated storms in the Santa Cruz mountains, according to the weather service. A strike team from Marin County Fire was sent to the East Bay on Friday night.

“We had a scenario where we had the potential need to take precautions,” Giannini said. “During the summertime, we want everybody to be diligent and especially aware of the threat for wildfire, not just on the mountain but really everywhere in Marin.”

Some roads were closed in rural areas of Mt. Tam State Park and West Marin and all special permits were pulled. The 50th annual Mt. Tam Hillclimb had to be cancelled Friday once organizers were notified by park officials.

"It was really disappointing because we had 300 riders preregistered and were probably going to get about 400 altogether," said Tad Borek of race organizer Golden Gate Velo. "It was going to be the 50th running and we had a lot of people really excited because it was going to be their first race."

Borek said Golden Gate Velo spent about $4,000 obtaining the permits and about $12,000 in all to stage and prepare for the races.

A spokesman for the Marin Municipal Water District, which manages the Mt. Tam watershed, said everything was returning to normal and roads were opening up with the lifting of the red-flag warning. Roads leading to Natalie Coffin Greene Park and the Sky Oaks Watershed had been closed temporarily.

Ranger Supervisor Rich Gibson of the Marin County Parks and Open Space District said he hadn’t heard of any dangerous situations in Marin, but several hiking trail work crews were told to suspend use of power tools as a precaution.

Walter Dawydiak September 10, 2011 at 07:08 PM
The red flag warning and the canceling of the bike race permit because of a potential lightning danger is typical bureaucratic BS that happens in Marin. On every street in in every town in Marin the FD will let an everyday fire dangers like trees and brush violations slide but jump at the chance to cry wolf about the possibility of a remote lighting strike on the mountain causing a fire!
Sean September 10, 2011 at 10:18 PM
They are doing a job with the best information possible to keep most people safe. So you had to postponed the bike race. Grow up. Too bad it didn't strike when you were out there.
Brent Ainsworth September 11, 2011 at 02:16 AM
This story has been updated with information from Golden Gate Velo, the race promoters who had to cancel the Mt. Tam Hillclimb.
Walter Dawydiak September 11, 2011 at 04:47 PM
Sean, I noticed you did not have the courage to use your last name. What right do you have to defend their actions under the guise of public safety and then hope that one of the riders be struck by lighting? There were other choices; they could have offered conditional approval for the race with the condition that it be canceled/shutdown at the first sign inclement weather. I would also speculate that you probably have no idea how important races like this are for those who trained, especially for those with disabilities and or recovering from medical conditions and use races like this as a means of motivation.

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