REDMOND, Ore. –. Firefighters will be assessing any new hazards resulting from Saturday’s rain as well as its effectiveness at suppressing the fire.
“I’m optimistic the areas to the west have reached a season-ending event level,” Fire Behavior Analyst Dean Warner said last night. “With the additional rain coming [today], it could be a season-ending event for the entire fire.”
By Saturday afternoon, rainfall totals on the west end of the fire ranged from 1-1/2 to 2-1/4”, while the east side received 0.1 to 0.4”. Elevations above 5,500 feet received a dusting of snow.
Rain and conditions on the ground forced many divisions to pause operations Saturday, but that does not mean firefighters were idle. Aviation took the opportunity to conduct training exercises, while crews in the field sharpened chainsaws and tools, restocked supplies, performed equipment maintenance, and other chores.
Firefighters never rely entirely on the local weather forecast. In the field, crews collect observations for their specific location every hour, including temperature, relative humidity and wind direction, and making tactical decisions based on that information.
On large incidents like the Lionshead Fire, an incident meteorologist is brought in to constantly monitor and evaluate the weather in and around the fire zone. Crews relay their field findings to that person to give them additional insight.
Satellite data and information collected from National Weather Service Remote Automatic Weather Stations (RAWS) also help paint a more comprehensive picture.
Showers are expected to continue today and into Monday, then resume late Tuesday. Wednesday will bring in another warming, drying trend, which could stimulate very low intensity burning on the east side of the fire.
“The most we might see is smoldering and creeping, which will produce smoke,” Warner said.
Area closures could remain in place for some time, although they may be modified from time to time. For information about the most current closure orders for the Willamette, Mt. Hood and Deschutes National Forests, and Prineville Bureau of Land Management, go to https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7049/
Evacuation levels have not changed since Linn County Sheriff’s Office reopened the Stahlman Cabins community under a level 2 “Be Ready” status.