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Weather Service: Conditions ripe for wildfires today

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POSTED December 16, 2017 12:52 a.m.

The start of winter is five days away but the National Weather Service is warning conditions will exist from 10 a.m. today to 10 p.m. Sunday that are ideal to trigger wildland fire combustion that could spread rapidly.
The red flag warning is in effect for the Bay Area foothills; the eastern Northern San Joaquin Valley including Tracy and rural areas west of Manteca, Lathrop, and Stockton; and various mountain areas including the Sequoia National Forest and Mendocino National Forest.
Much of the north state will see sustained wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour. The National Weather Service is predicting they will be even stronger in the Stockton-Manteca-Modesto area peaking at 35 to 40 miles per hour through 10 a.m. Sunday.
The Weather Service said this means:
uIncreased fire weather danger with gusty winds and dry fuels.
uPotential for broken branches, downed trees and power lines, lofted debris (holiday decorations).
uDifficult driving conditions, especially for high profile vehicles.
uPower outages possible.

PG&E warns of
potential for downed power lines
PG&E has issued a warning to customers to always treat low hanging and downed power lines as if they are energized and extremely dangerous. Keep yourself and others away from them. Be aware that trees, pools of water and other objects that may be in contact with power lines. If you see damaged power lines or electrical equipment, call 911 immediately and then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
If you experience an outage, unplug or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
Other tips can be found at

Air quality concerns
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is also warning air quality may become unhealthy throughout the valley.
That’s because after a week of exceptionally poor air quality due to stagnant atmospheric conditions, the San Joaquin Valley may experience gusty winds and localized blowing dust through tonight, which could compound the region’s current poor air quality. Blowing dust can result in unhealthy concentrations of particulate matter 10 microns and smaller (PM10), prompting local air pollution officials to issue a health cautionary statement effective Friday evening through Saturday for the entire San Joaquin Valley. Winds will be especially strong in the northern region of the valley and west of Highway 99.  Air quality conditions may improve Sunday.
Exposure to particulate pollution can cause serious health problems, aggravate lung disease, trigger asthma attacks and bronchitis, and increase risk of respiratory infections. Where conditions warrant, people with heart or lung disease should follow their doctors’ advice for dealing with episodes of particulate exposure. Additionally, older adults and children should avoid prolonged exposure or heavy exertion, depending on their local conditions.
In addition the national Weather Service is advising:
uAvoid outdoor burning.
uDo not use a lawn mower or drive on dry grass or brush.
uDo not have vehicle parts or chains dragging on the ground.
uProperly dispose of cigarettes and matches.
uObey local burn bans and evacuate if told to do so.

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