With rain finally arriving in parts of the West Coast, fire officials hope the forecast will help them gain ground on the deadly wildfires that forced thousands to evacuate this week.
Much of the rain will drop over the west slopes of the Cascade Mountains, exactly where Oregon Department of Forestry fire chief Doug Grafe would “ask for it,” he says.
Rain is forecast for parts of Oregon and Washington but there’s little rainfall in sight for California, where officials warned warm and dry conditions will elevate the danger of fire over the weekend.
The state has seen more than 3.4 million acres scorched so far this year, killing 26 people and reducing hundreds of homes to ashes. The death count rose by one after a firefighter was killed while fighting the El Dorado Fire, the blaze sparked this month by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used at a gender reveal party.
Fresh evacuations were ordered Thursday in parts of southern California threatened by the Bobcat Fire, which has torched more than 60,577 acres and is 41% contained, according to the US Forest Service.
It’s one of about 79 uncontained large fires burning across the US West as of Friday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Together, blazes in California, Oregon and Washington have burned more than 5.8 million acres, a spokesman and a report from the NIFC say. At least 34 people have died.