While recent rains significantly reduced the size of the two major fires in Northern California, it has also made them more difficult to completely put out.
Mark Thibedeau, an information officer with the U.S. Forest Service, said while the rains have diminished fore activity greatly, they have also impacted the crews’ ability to get to the fire perimeter. He said said the estimated containment of the Delta Fire, near Interstate 5 in Shasta County, remains at 97 percent.
“For us to feel confident the fire won’t continue once the weather dries up, we need to access those areas,” he said. “We can’t call it ‘out’ just yet.”
He said fire personnel are patrolling all areas impacted by the fire, and expect to see smoldering in areas where trees have sheltered the ground from the rain.
He said a majority of the fire suppression efforts are taking place on the west edge of the fire where a flare-up occurred before the rain started.
Due to the access issues, he said officials have delayed the estimated containment date by a few days to Monday.
“We still have 880 people on the fire,” he said. “That’s a good number to keep the resources at a level we need to get a line around this fire and have suppression repair efforts to protect the natural resources.”
At the Natchez Fire near Happy Camp, a crew of firefighters hiked into a smoldering area on the southwest side of the fire perimeter Thursday. According to incident Information officer Diane Sine, fire officials are not expecting much more spreading of fire conditions there, due to the weekend weather forecast, which she said calls for cooler temperatures and moisture into Saturday.
“There is a potential for more rain throughout the week,” according to an update on Thursday. “Rain could produce dangerous conditions on the roads and possible debris flow.”
According to information on Inciweb, the weather has also resulted in much-improved air quality in the region. The fire has been burning in rough terrain since July 15 and has consumed an estimated 38,134 acres of wildland and is estimated to be 84 percent contained.