Firefighters in the northwest are finally getting a bit of relief as cool weather moves in from the pacific, bringing much needed rain to some regions. Crews on the Okanagan complex in central Washington report a quarter-inch of rain yesterday, which helped slow the progress of the fire and gave firefighters a window to hit the fire hard with air resources.
In most cases, fires the size of those in Washington and across the western U.S. have burned too long and too hot for small amounts of rain to extinguish any blazes. Most rainfall will evaporate well before it makes it to the forest floor. However, it does raise the humidity level and that, combined with temperatures in the 70’s or lower, has helped clear away much of the smoke in areas. This creates a huge advantage for firefighters, who can now perform bucket drops and establish a better foothold from which to beat fires back.
The break in weather did not come soon enough for crews on the Tepee Springs fire, which forced the evacuation of dozens of people in the recreation areas of the Salmon River in central Idaho. Crews were using the river as a natural break on Saturday, when the flames suddenly jumped the river and overran an area that was being used a shelter for civilians in the area. Thankfully, law enforcement and federal land agents were able to safely escort everyone away in time.