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North Bay homeowners hope forecasted rain eases fire danger

North Bay homeowners hope forecasted rain eases fire danger
North Bay homeowners hope forecasted rain eases fire danger 02:50

SANTA ROSA - Some cold September rain is obviously good news when it comes to fire risk, but how much, or how long, might a relatively small storm like this help? Fire officials say that depends on what comes next.

"Couple days ago, we had the earthquake," said Pat Travis of Santa Rosa. "It definitely gave us a shake. Little bit of everything up here."

Pat Travis was working on his home Friday. And the first time KPIX 5 Wilson Walker met him, he was just glad the home was standing at all.

"If the fire was going to come down, I at least thought that may stop it from coming into the house," Travis said in 2020 of his sprinkler system left running during the Glass Fire.

That fire burned within a half mile of this block, and almost two years later, Travis says things have changed.

"I think that's what a lot of us are doing, just cleaning up the property," he said of the new sense of urgency. "These trees were over the house, so we cut them this way back."

So with rain coming for the trees and the new gutter guards, Travis is optimistic.

"That is wonderful news," Travis said. "We are delighted to have the rain come."

"Yeah, absolutely," Santa Rosa Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal said of the coming rain. "Especially with the amount of rain we're expecting in the north bay, this is great news. Especially coming out of the heat wave and just how dry things have been."

In the midst of severe, worsening drought, it is a rare fortunate break, especially on the heels of the heat wave and moving into the wind season.

"The rain is 100% beneficial," Lowenthal said. "We will absolutely take it, but it doesn't put an end to the fire season. It doesn't put an end to the drought, or our risk for the remainder of the year here."

If, however, the rain is followed by more warm, dry weather, the benefits may vanish quickly. Lowenthal says a return to a warmer, dry weather pattern could see the help brought by the rain wane by early or mid October.

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