Fire warnings were issued Monday for national park sites in Marin County and for the town of Woodside in the wake of hot, dry and windy weather. The warnings came as firefighters in Brisbane worked for several hours to contain a hillside grass fire.
The fire burned three acres and was contained by late afternoon. The National Park Service declared a state of "extreme fire danger" at Point Reyes National Seashore, the Marin Headlands and Muir Woods National Monument for today. At Point Reyes, the NPS rescinded all previously issued fire permits, closed Mt. Vision Road to car traffic, and prohibited smoking on park trails and backcountry areas.
The park service also banned all wood or charcoal fires within the national seashore boundaries, but allowed self-contained gas stoves at designated campgrounds and picnic area. At the Marin Headlands and Muir Woods, the NPS prohibited all fires, including campfires at Kirby Cove, beach fires at Muir Beach, and cooking fires and charcoal grills, except for self-contained gas stoves at designated areas. Smoking was forbidden on all park trails and in all areas of Muir Woods.
On the Peninsula, the Woodside Fire Protection District warned residents of "extreme fire weather" and urged, "Use caution during outdoor activities." Fire Chief Dan Ghioso said the danger resulted from the heat, dryness and abundant vegetation in the wooded community.
"We have 6,000 houses, a lot of trees, a lot of land, a lot of grass and no fog off the coast" today, he explained. Ghioso said that while fire officials want residents to keep their lawns mowed, people are urged to mow lawns before 10 a.m. when there is still some humidity. A lawnmower blade that hits a heated rock on a hot day can create a spark that sets off a fire, he said.
National Weather Service forecaster Bob Benjamin said the main weather factors that create fire danger are winds, which have been fairly high in the past several days, and lack of humidity, rather than high temperatures.
"It is not the heat in and of itself, but the dry air mass that comes with the heat, combined with high winds," he said.
Benjamin, at the service's San Francisco Bay Area/Monterey office in Monterey, said that because of the winds, the service posted red flag warnings over the past several days for North Bay and East Bay hills higher than 1,000 feet. Benjamin said the red flag warnings are aimed at local fire agencies. They are intended to help the agencies decide whether to issue public alerts and whether to have extra firefighters available, he said.