With unusual weather patterns here, as well as around the globe, pinning down the Bay Area’s fire season is something few experts are willing to do this year. Didn’t a rather weird and warm rainstorm pass through Berkeley just this week? 

If anything close to “normal” patterns prevail, summer will wind down with periods of intense heat and episodes of strong, dry gusts  from the east — the Diablo winds. Historically, most serious East Bay fires have started at this time. And one thing is clear, the wet winter led to robust vegetative growth, which translates to more fuel for fire. 

While California’s wildfire season hasn’t been severe, at least not yet, especially in the northern parts of the state, the deadly wildfires of Hawaii including the devastation in Maui are a gut-punch for many Bay Area residents, who feel deeply for the victims, and worry something similar could happen here. 

We’ve updated our comprehensive Berkeley and East Bay wildfire guide — a one-stop shop for resources and information. It covers everything from home preparation to evacuation instructions to what masks offer the most protection against wildfire smoke and much, much more.  

New developments include PG&E’s Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings, or near-instantaneous power cuts with unusual movement on wires, such as falling trees or branches, and, in Berkeley, enhanced wildfire response — including volunteer neighborhood ambassadors to help people navigate requirements, more fire inspectors conducting more detailed and educational inspections and free curbside chipper service by appointment.

Wildfire preparation and response often change, with new data, research, laws, and services. We’ll strive to keep up in our 2023 guide. 

We hope you’ll bookmark the guide, share it, and refer to it often. And if you notice anything in the guide that is outdated or know of information that you think should be included, you can let us know by emailing us at editors@berkeleyside.org.

Freelancer Catherine "Kate" Rauch has been contributing to Berkeleyside for several years. Her work as a journalist has encompassed everything from 10 years as a daily news reporter for the East Bay Times,...