Friday, October 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Fire fears close Rockville park in Fairfield

15 park closure 1

The gate for the parking lot at Rockville Hills Regional Park in Fairfield is closed to the public, Tuesday. Officials shut down the 633-acre park due to fire danger. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | January 15, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — The city closed the Rockville Hills Regional Park on Monday night in a pre-emptive measure after learning of very low humidity and a critical fire danger overnight with no one available to conduct a red flag closing Tuesday if necessary, the Public Works Department says.

“That was the area where the fire danger would be most critical,” Cathie Norris, public works supervisor, said of Rockville. “The terrain makes it difficult to fight a fire up there.”

Rockville park, 633 acres of grasslands and oak woodlands west of Interstate 80, will be open Wednesday, she said.

A full red-flag closing with signs at every public access point was not undertaken, she said. Only two city staff members are trained in red flag closings and neither would have been available Tuesday if a park closing was necessary, Norris said.

Fairfield has a red flag closing policy for Rockville and other regional parks that draw hikers, bikers and wildlife watchers from around Northern California.

Red flag warnings, according to the city website, occur during fire season when high temperatures and wind, plus low humidity, can lead to extremely dangerous fire conditions. Park closures can also occur during the winter when extreme weather conditions, such as wind and rain, can make the parks and open spaces hazardous for pedestrians and bikers, according to the city.

Norris said this is the first time in her four years with Fairfield that the city has closed the park in January because of fire concerns.

Rockville was the only park closed this week, Norris said.

Matt Luckenbach, battalion chief with the Fairfield Fire Department, said a ranger remains on patrol during a park closing because some people declare the shutdown ridiculous and enter the site. He described Rockville as really dry.

“This year’s just so rare,” he said of conditions.

The city information phone line for Rockville includes the message that heavy rain cancels activities in the park where hiking and mountain biking take place.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or rmccarthy@dailyrepublic.net.

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