Nicolae Bogdan never expected to be standing in the middle of his lot in South Placer County surrounded by acres of charred ground. He was using a metal grinder to sharpen the blade of his Bobcat, which under normal conditions should not have been a problem.
"I was grinding in a dry place, clean, no grass. A spark flew some farther and set the grass on fire," Bogdan explained.
But it took a few moments before he realized what was happening.
"I felt some heat, and I looked around. There was a little patch of fire," Bogdan said. "I tried to put it out, but it didn't help, so I ran and called the fire."
A combination of dry fuel and windy conditions quickly spread the fire. Firefighters were able to get things under control before anyone got hurt. They were also able to contain the flames before they could spread to nearby homes, but not without giving neighbors like Russell Kokx a scare.
"The weeds were pretty high, the weeds and blackberry, so the flames did get up in the air and a tremendous amount of smoke," Kokx said.
Across the region, firefighters in Solano County ran into a similar challenge. Fire season may be officially over, but a lack of rain has led to unusually dry conditions late into the year, so when strong winds appear, that makes a dangerous combination. That's why firefighters are urging everyone to do what Bogdan learned the hard way.
"To be more careful than I was," Bogdan said.
Firefighters said until the area gets a good soaking rain, this kind of danger will remain through the end of the year, especially with a return of strong winds.
If you have any kind of outdoor work that could cause sparks, monitor wind conditions, or wait until the wind passes.