Rain stops the spread of the Camp Fire

The blaze in Northern California is nearly contained

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aerial photo Paradise Camp Fire
Aerial photo, off Herb Lane near Skyway in Paradise. From the Butte County drone mapping project.

Large quantities of rain that began Wednesday are helping firefighters contain the Camp Fire that devastated most of Paradise and the adjacent Concow community in Northern California. Rainfall in the last 72 hours in the county, Butte County, varied from 0.94″ to 7.10″.

To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Camp Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.

CAL FIRE reports that the only uncontained section of the fire is in steep, rugged terrain that is unsafe for firefighters to access due to the heavy rains. There is indirect control line in that area and firefighters are monitoring the situation. Once safe to do so, crews will assess the situation and determine if direct line is necessary. The agency said the fire has burned 153,336 acres.

After the rain this week the Redding Searchlight quoted Stephen Horner, a public information officer for the Camp Fire, as saying, “The fire is out”. Large wildfires, especially megafires like this one, are not usually declared officially “out” until there is nothing burning anywhere within the perimeter. In spite of rain and snow, trees, roots, and logs can continue burning for months; some may overwinter and continue to burn into the following Spring.

The number of fatalities has risen to 84 with 475 reported as unaccounted for. Almost 14,000 homes have been destroyed.

This week some residents of Magalia were allowed to return to their homes, but other areas, especially in Paradise, are still under evacuation orders.

The rain has made it much more difficult to search through the ashes to find and recover bodies.

One of the primary tasks still facing firefighters is the removal of hazardous trees that are still standing but are dead or partially burned and likely to fall.

Agencies in Butte County have worked with cooperators to acquire aerial photography of the populated areas that were the most severely affected by the Camp Fire. On 500 drone flights they took 70,000 photos that have been georeferenced and formatted into a map. The still photos, videos, and 360-degree images can help residents check the status of their homes. It was a massive undertaking that was completed in just a couple of days by 16 drone teams and several organizations that used the data to produce the map and videos.

aerial photo Paradise Camp Fire
Near Orchard Drive in Paradise. From the Butte County drone mapping project.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.