Rain was falling in the mountains Thursday where the King fire grew more than 2,000 acres overnight and containment of the wildland blaze increased from 38 to 43 percent.
Calfire officials had worried that Wednesday’s high winds would rapidly spread the fire, which happened last week when gusts pushed the blaze. However, that scenario failed to materialize for the most part.
The minimal growth of the fire from 92,960 to 95,347 acres overnight was good news for weary firefighters.
“It could have been a lot worse,” said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Michael Williams.
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The 8,002 firefighting personnel– a record for any United States wildfire – will be back at it today, cutting lines to keep the fire in check. However, helicopters and airplanes were likely to be grounded because of the cloud cover.
Residents of the community of Swansboro were allowed back to their homes. But for firefighters, leaky tents and muddy conditions are the order of the day on Thursday.
“It’s really coming down,” said Williams at about 7 a.m. Thursday at the incident command post in Foresthill.
He said that if clouds clear, air support could be used. Williams said the 8,000 personnel on the King fire was a record as the most people ever on a wildfire.
“It was justified because of the complexity, the speed with which it was moving – and the desire to get this thing wrapped up as safely as possible,” said Williams.
The NWS issued a flash flood warning at 12:15 p.m. Thursday when Doppler radar indicated heavy rainfall over the King fire burned area. Flash floods and debris flows could occur until 6:15 p.m.
Forecasters said that the severely burned areas were of particular concern, including the south and middle forks of the American River and the Rubicon River basin. Heavy rain can produce excessive runoff in the areas where heavy vegetation loss has occurred due to fire.
“If you observe movement of soils, debris or larges amounts of water you should move to higher ground immediately,” the flash flood warning stated.