Rain fails to extinguish huge Washington wildfire

first_imgGRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Despite widespread drought in the West, wildfires have burned less than half the 10-year average area so far this summer.U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said Wednesday that largely has been a matter of luck, with the hot, windy weather known as “red flag” days not lining up with the lighting strikes that start fires, particularly in California.But he says that is changing. Eighteen large fires are burning in the Northwest with intensities not normally seen until August.Firefighters on Wednesday were chasing 25 new fires ignited by thunderstorms moving across Northern California, Oregon and Washington.Meanwhile, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report warning climate change is contributing to bigger and longer fire seasons, and new homes in forests are driving up firefighting costs.SPOKANE — Rain and hail fell Wednesday on the largest wildfire in the state’s history. But there wasn’t enough water to extinguish the flames.“It was like the judgment day,” fire spokeswoman Kris Erikson said of the intense thunderstorm. “It was major, but short.“Will it put the fire out? No.”But the storm raised humidity in the area of the fire and prevented it from growing much, Erikson said.The Carlton Complex stands at more than 250,000 acres, or nearly 400 square miles, and it’s being fought by about 2,500 people.“Today we have not seen active fire behavior,” fire spokesman Andrew Sandri said.But lightning could spark new fires in the parched region, Sandri said. And all the moisture could lead to flash floods because so much ground vegetation has been lost.last_img

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