MODIS heat sensing satellite image showing approximate location of Metz Fire along Highway 146 (the access road to the West Pinnacles).
While grass in the Santa Lucias is only just turning brown, the grass across the valley in the Gabilans is already dry enough to burn – as dramatically demonstrated by the overnight Metz Fire which, as of this morning, had burned over 700 acres between Soledad and the Pinnacles National Monument. With containment at 80%, further expansion of the Metz Fire is unlikely, but notice has been served that we’ve reached the time of year when fires can – and will – break out.
With the heavy late-season rains, this isn’t expected to be a particularly bad fire season. But a fire doesn’t have to burn hundreds of thousands of acres and go on for weeks to threaten life and property. The most dangerous fires are the one’s that, like the Metz Fire, ignite suddenly and spread quickly upslope and up (or down) canyon on a strong wind. Fires like that can happen any year. All it takes is for someone to be careless in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s fortunate there weren’t homes in the way of this one.