A hot smoky summer appeared to achieve some finality Saturday night when we got our first significant rain, but was it enough to end the fires?
“The rain on the fire last night has definitely held back any fire activity,” said Koshare Eagle, public information officer for the west zone of the Klondike fire, the largest conflagration of the fires that have scorched Southern Oregon this summer.
She said up to three-tenths of an inch fell Saturday night, and crews saw more showers Sunday morning and a significant drop in fire activity.
Best of all, the meteorologist for the Klondike fire forecasts a prolonged period of higher humidity and cooler temperatures, Eagle said.
Lightning activity last night didn’t produce any new fires in the Klondike fire area, she said.
She said it would be hard to predict whether this is the end of the smoky summer. Some of the lighter fuels will benefit from the moisture, though they tend to dry out quicker. Logs and other heavier vegetation on the forest floor are still dry.
“It will take a longer period of moisture to get fully moist,” Eagle said.
Increased fire activity on the Klondike was fanned by hot windy conditions last week, ushering in more smoke into the valley. It was 89 degrees and 8 percent humidity at one of the weather stations in the higher elevations near the Klondike last week, which helped increase the fire’s size.
The Klondike has burned through 167,033 acres to date and is 72-percent contained. The western flanks of the fire and around the town of Agness have been the most troublesome for fire activity. There are 578 people working on the Klondike.
The Taylor Creek fire, which has joined with Klondike, is 52,389 acres and is 95 percent contained.
Both fires together are 219,422 acres, far larger than the 192,000-acre Chetco Bar fire last year.
According to the National Weather Service Medford office, there is a chance of rain through Tuesday night in the area with temperatures in the low to mid 70s during the day.
Over the past 72 hours as of Sunday afternoon, .23 inches of rain fall at the Weather Service office at the Medford airport.