CONCORD, CALIF — Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) announced it has reduced initial vegetation fire responses to a single fire engine because of recent precipitation.
The decision to reduce responses came last week after several soaking rains. The reduction signals the end of heightened fire danger, which was first announced on May 6. This year’s period of seasonal fire danger lasted 187 days, six days short of the previous year’s period.
Grass, vegetation and exterior fires increased by more than 10 percent across our district as compared to the previous year. Despite this increase, Contra Costa County fared reasonably well with fire service preparation and planning, resident participation, early reporting, rapid and overwhelming responses, and favorable weather patterns in recent weeks all making a difference.
“Although another dangerous season of fire weather locally, I am pleased by the collective efforts of our firefighters, fire service partners, and residents, who together were able to limit wildfire danger in spite of a more than 10 percent increase in overall fire responses,” said Lewis Broschard, fire chief, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. “Still, with nearly year-round fire danger, our fire risks in Contra Costa County are very real. I urge all residents to continue to practice fire safety in all outdoor activities and to plan well ahead of the typical spring-months arrival of fire danger for weed abatement and defensible space creation around their properties.”
Through November 11, during this year’s heightened fire danger period, the district dispatched crews to 1,718 grass, vegetation, and other exterior fires, a 12 percent increase over 2021. The vast majority of this year’s fires were held to less than 10 acres. The previous year’s total dispatches for the heightened fire danger period were 1,528.
Fourteen fires exceeded 10 acres burned in 2022. Of these, only three burned more than 100 acres before being brought under control. By far the largest was the “Marsh Fire,” a months-long underground peat fire that burned some 700 acres along the Bay Point and Pittsburg shorelines before being extinguished by flooding. The additional two 100-plus acre fires were June blazes in Pittsburg – on June 17, a fire burned 125 acres threatening homes in the vicinity of Jacqueline Drive and on June 24 another fire burned 105 acres along Kirker Pass Road.
All of the season’s fires were caused by some sort of human activity with 48 known to have been caused by illegal fireworks use. Another 599 began in or near homeless encampments or were otherwise started by transients. Unlike the previous year, no residents were displaced by wildfire incidents in 2022.
This year’s increased number of grass and vegetation fires demonstrate we are not immune to wildfire danger in Contra Costa County. Weed abatement and defensible space creation are essential to protecting homes and businesses from wildfire risk. For more on wildfire safety, visit www.cccfpd.org.
About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) – With annexation of the former East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) in July, 2022, Con Fire now provides fire and emergency medical services to more than 750,000 residents in 11 cities and 10 unincorporated areas across our expanded 553 square-mile jurisdiction. Annexation resulted in absorption of the resources and people of the former ECCFPD, adding 294 square miles of service area. The District now comprises 30 fire stations and nearly 500 employees. Through our unique ambulance Alliance, the District delivers EMS and ambulance transport services to much of Contra Costa County. In 2021, the District responded to some 83,000 incidents of all types, including nearly 43,000 fire and EMS emergencies, and dispatched 100,000 ambulances, conducting more than 75,000 ambulance transports. Con Fire remains dedicated to preserving life, property, and the environment.