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No major wildfires in Wine Country yet, but residents staying on alert

North Bay residents on high alert was fire danger increases
North Bay residents on high alert was fire danger increases 02:51

Napa County has not seen any major fires this year, but residents in the region know everything can change in a matter of minutes.

JR Shaffer vividly remembers walking into his backyard to check what he thought was an odd sound nearby.  

"It looked like the sun. It was crazy as hell," said Shaffer. 

Residents of Deer Park are keenly aware of the amount of fire fuel load near their homes and the dry conditions lately, especially after a devastating inferno tore through Napa, nearly four years ago. 

Charred trees are a reminder of just how close the Glass Fire that ripped through Deer Park came to devouring his home.  

"I couldn't believe when it dawned on me, that's a fire. It was as crazy as can be," said Shaffer. 

Since that fire in late September 2020, Shaffer has put up a metal fence instead of wood to harden his home.

He's clearing any vegetation and dry bush curbside, so any cigarettes being tossed from passing cars, have less of a chance to ignite a blaze.  

"It's just dry, the grass, everything is just dry," said Shaffer. 

Nearby residents are doing what they can to maintain defensible space, keeping a close eye on the fire fuel load.

"It's dry. The fire season when it burns up it burns up. But it's back and ready to go again," said Marvin Asher. 

The National Weather Service updated its red flag warning to now include the interior Napa Valley. For residents like Shaffer, the wildfire season seems to grow longer and start earlier.

"It seems like we get that way more and more every year," said Shaffer. 

He and neighbors realize there's only so much they can control. 

"You're always on alert when you live in the country," said Asher. 

"Maybe we're just paying attention to it more than we used to," said Shaffer. 

They've seen how quickly and unexpectedly an inferno can swallow homes. Just recently, Shaffer said a fire ignited not too far away from his home.  

He said firefighters put down the 60-acre blaze fairly quickly. But ever since that fire four years ago, they're prepared for anything — at any time.

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