Cooler temps help fire crews

Cooler temps help fire crews

You might think the rain that fell across the Inland Northwest Tuesday morning would make quick work of fires raging throughout the state, however while the moisture is a relief, there’s still plenty of work to do.

Out at the Watermelon Hill fire camp in Cheney, crews woke up Tuesday morning and many of them began rolling up their tents on what will most likely be their last day at the fire. For those that remain behind there’s still a lot of work left to make sure the fire is extinguished.

“It slows it down for a day but that’s about it,” Deputy Incident Commander Bruce Holloway said.

Holloway, who is also the fire chief for Spokane County Fire District Three, said he’s seen fire seasons like this before and knows that a little rain doesn’t always mean a whole lot.

“The fuels are really cooked dry so it takes almost like a week of rain to really make a difference. A day of rain with heat again tomorrow, doesn’t really change much,” he said.

In fact sometimes, depending on where crews are in the firefighting effort, the moisture can hinder their work.

“One of the real problems with rain in this kind of condition is that we need to burn some stuff out to make sure it is secure. You can’t do it when it’s raining. So it might even slow things down because you can’t really accomplish what you need to accomplish when it is raining,” Holloway said.

Still, the men and women out at the Watermelon Hill fire have made excellent progress, so much so that many of the 275 firefighters out here are leaving after Tuesday. Those personnel won’t be heading home though.

“Resources are starting to drop because we are kind of finishing up the work here, but there are other fires that have popped up in addition to the big ones,” Holloway said.