Those fighting the Camp Fire, which has ravaged 151,272 acres of Northern California since it began on November 8, might finally see some relief with expected rains today. The fire has brought more than 11,000 homes, 400 businesses and thousands of barns, garages and other structures to scorched ruins. The death toll reached 81 people as of Tuesday; almost 700 people still remain listed as “missing”.
Now fire-destroyed areas are anticipating some long-needed precipitation. Lonnie Quinn, chief weathercaster at CBS New York, said the region can expect rain today and Friday. The town of Paradise, which has been anything but in the last days, could receive up to 4 inches of rain, according to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski. Some places could get as much as half an inch of rain an hour.
Though the rain will hopefully help firefighters take down the Camp Fire (which was still only 70 percent contained Monday night) once and for all, it may also trigger mudslides and make it much more difficult for search parties to find human remains. That has search and rescue personnel, armed with masks and so-called cadaver dogs, in a race against the clock.
"The material that we're dealing with, it's heavy, you know, ash and soot, and when the water touches that, it kinda turns to sediment, almost like soil again," federal search-and-rescue team member Brian Ferreira said. "It is kinda urgent, yeah, that we get through this as quick as we can."
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea fears that the rain will come before the search has finished. “As much as I wish that we could get through all of this before the rains come, I don’t know if that’s possible,” the sheriff said.
CBS News reports that Los Angeles County officials have established a website “for residents to prepare for the possibility of rain, including information about free sand bangs, road closures and emergency alerts.”