Winds could hamper firefight

Written by Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat October 03, 2013 12:30 pm

High winds and low humidity over the next few days could delay the Rim Fire’s estimated full-containment date once again.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning in the Sierra and Central Valley effective today through Saturday, meaning there will be heightened fire danger.

The Rim Fire’s estimated full containment date is Sunday. The containment estimate has been pushed back twice already.

Michelle Carbonaro, spokeswoman for the Stanislaus National Forest firefight, said the prediction for unsettled weather was the main reason the date was pushed back earlier.

She said there is a chance the containment estimate will have to be pushed back further. 

The area burned by the fire this morning remained at 257,135 acres. Containment was 92 percent. 

Winds are forecast to blow out of the north between 15 and 25 mph in the active fire perimeter with humidity in the teens — potentially fanning flames and increasing the chance of spot fires, as previously seen in the Rim Fire fight. 

On the weekend of Sept. 8, dozens of spot fires were kicked up by high winds, but with thousands of personnel working the fire, all were extinguished by Monday, Sept. 10.

Also, high winds increase the dangers of falling tree limbs. Such dangerous trees are already hampering the firefight and land rehabilitation, but crew members and private companies have been taking up to a hundred truckloads of wood a day from the fire area in recent days, according to Carbonaro.