Light rain is falling in North East Washington State, bringing with it a decrease in the haze and smell in the air, but is it really impacting the fire? How much help is this type of light rain, (1/8th to 1/2 inch) over a few hours, to the crews on the line?
The rain yesterday and today has significantly benefited the fire fighting efforts taking place throughout NE Washington. But that does not mean that we are relaxing our awareness or lowering the evacuation levels currently in place. There is still a great deal of potential for dangerous fire conditions when things dry out. As a rule, evacuation levels are not rolled back until the danger is gone, not just lowered.
The second point we want to make is that, although we welcome the rain, it is a help rather than a cure. This type of light rain will wet down and soak into lite fuels such as grass; helping to prevent immediate ignition. But type dry out quickly when the sun comes out and the wind picks up. This type of rain can also slow down burn out efforts, as they require a lower level of humidity.
Light rain does not penetrate overhead cover, so the fuels and heat that are under the forest canopy are not really impacted. Heavy fuels, such as logs and trees retain heat and continue to burn in these conditions.
This fire is not out and the fire crews are still aggressively fighting the fire and developing new control lines to fully contain the fire. So while the rain is bringing some relief, it is only part of the relief effort.