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"Moderate" rain can help Mosquito fire fight, too much may do more harm

"Moderate" rain can help Mosquito fire fight; too much may do more harm
"Moderate" rain can help Mosquito fire fight; too much may do more harm 03:16

FORESTHILL -- As of Monday afternoon, the Mosquito Fire burning in Placer and El Dorado Counties was 10% contained and had grown to 46,587 acres, but hopes of relief came in the afternoon with scattered rain in the footprint of the fire. 

The fire progressed Monday to the north and east and despite cooler temperatures, the historically dry conditions have made vegetation a driving force behind the fire's growth. There are 2,397 personnel are assigned to and working on the fire and have been able to build in-direct control lines to stay ahead of the fire on the corner between Foresthill Road and Deadwood Rd. 

The steep and rugged terrain makes it difficult for ground crews to access the fire directly as it burns into the Tahoe National Forest and parts of the El Dorado National Forest on Monday.

In these areas, visibility from smoke has grounded aerial operations. Planes can't fly in the conditions on Monday afternoon due to a lack of visibility. However, if there is a break in the smoke due to rain, helicopters may be able to drop water to assist, but only if conditions are safe. 

After 11 a.m. on Monday, the rain was reported in areas near the Mosquito fire, and with it, hopes that there may be some relief at the hands of Mother Nature. 

"Rain actually is not a good thing either," said Scott Mclean, the Information Officer for the Mosquito Fire. He explained that a downpour isn't necessarily a good thing because it could lead to flooding or mudslides. What's worse, he said, a downpour could erase the work of bulldozers that have built roads and put firefighters in danger. 

"A moderate amount, sure I'll take but not a torrential downpour," said Mclean. 

As for cooler temperatures, a decade ago they would have made more of an impact on the firefight. Today, with drought conditions as severe as they have been statewide in California and fuels as dry as they are in these areas, cooler temperatures provide minimal relief. The cool temperatures do provide better conditions for firefighters compared to the triple-digit temperature streak Northern California experienced last week. 

"It's not just putting the line down, it's working into the center of the fire, into the fire area, making sure all those hot spots, all those hazards trees, anything that could cause a spark or an ember to come across the line," said Mclean. 

Above all, Mclean said residents in the more than three dozen evacuation zones should heed the warnings to leave if they haven't already. He said these measures are in place to protect people, and although Cal Fire and other partner agencies understand that residents want to get home, to do that safely, takes time. 

"Those orders have been given for a reason," Mclean said, "There's too many people left in there for their own safety." 

To view current Placer County evacuation orders and warnings, view the interactive map here.  To view El Dorado County evacuation orders and warnings view the interactive map here.

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