July 18, 2018
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Cal Fire issues open burn suspension: Hot weather brings ban

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
June 29, 2018

With Rohnert Park temperatures reaching a scorching 97 and the mercury rising across the county this past weekend, Cal Fire has good reason to issue an open fire burning suspension that is indefinitely in effect due to the recent dry winds and warm weather.

In addition to the open burn suspension, which stipulates there be no outdoor burning except in organized campgrounds and on private property with landowner permission, the National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch last weekend for the North Bay region.

The open burn suspension went into effect on June 18 at 12:01 a.m. and includes the ban of all agricultural, fire training, forest management and other types of industrial burning. 

Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services says these types of burns and campfire burns can proceed if a permit is obtained by Cal Fire following an official inspection. Campfires will be allowed in specially designated campgrounds.

The suspension will help to allow a quick response time for fire agencies in the event of a fire. According to the county fire and emergency services department, it will also help smoke impacts to the public in general as well as people attending large, outdoor events throughout the summer.

“As conditions across California and Sonoma County are drying out, we must take every step to prevent wildfires from igniting,” Sonoma County Fire Marshall, James Williams said in a statement. “Residents must ensure they have defensible space by removing dead trees and overgrown vegetation from around their homes. However, it is important to consider the weather before using tools. Do your vegetation management when conditions are moist and cool, early in the morning or after the heat of the day.”

As reported by the department, “Experience has shown” that open burning suspensions are a fairly effective way of helping to prevent fire from escaping during a time when Cotati, Rohnert Park and the state as a whole, is starting to sizzle with warmer weather.

While this tactic can’t ensure that a fire will be prevented, statistics have shown that the numbers of fires that do occur are significantly reduced.

When conditions are safe once again, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection will work in conjunction with the county to lift the suspension, however, certain burn restrictions will remain in place until Cal Fire declares the end of the fire season.

If anyone is responsible for open burning without a permit they may be subject to fines or a citation. 

The fire weather watch however, was lifted last Sunday around 8 p.m. and was also implemented due to the warm weather and overall dry conditions. While Rohnert Park and Cotati reached 97 degrees, Sonoma was one of the hottest areas last weekend with temperatures climbing to 99.

In addition to the burn suspension, last week’s hot weather also prompted county officials to send out a warning cautioning residents to drink plenty of fluids, dress lightly and to decrease physical activity outdoors.

The City of Cotati also opened the Cotati Police Department Community Room from noon to 8 p.m. as a cooling station last Friday.

The weather is expected to stay warm for the coming weeks, with Rohnert Park-Cotati temps forecasted to reach the high 80s and low 90s.

For more information on the open burn suspension or on defensible space, visit: www.fire.ca.gov or www.sonoma-county.org/des