Officials say a few light showers fell on the Rum Creek Fire and vicinity late Sunday into this morning. This moisture was a remnant of Tropical Storm Kay, passing to the south. Skies are clearing again, and the next few days are predicted to be similar to today, cooler and more humid than the end of last week.
“We’ve turned the corner and made it past the Red Flag events,” Incident Commander Trainee Rich Cowger stated.
Fire danger is still heightened, but the completed work makes the Rum Creek Fire unlikely to grow. Large fuels like logs are dry enough to burn readily, but the finer fuels that usually contribute to rapid fire spread are not as critically dry.
Fire personnel continue to patrol the fire’s perimeter, searching for residual hot spots. Most of the fire’s edges have been cooled at least 200 to 300 feet into the burn. Last night’s infrared flight detected little heat on most of the fire’s perimeter, and showed no acreage gain. Containment is now at 75%.
The hot, dry and windy weather the last few days helped expose remaining hot spots, making some burn more actively and start to smoke. This made them easier to locate and extinguish.
Light rain also helps firefighters. Light rain has time to soak into the vegetation and ground, while heavy rain is more likely to run off and cause erosion. Any moisture, including high humidity and rain, makes the fine fuels harder to ignite and burn. Moisture from rain can soak into the ground, duff layer, and other fuels. If it contacts embers, it cools them and converts to steam. Today firefighters will be watching for wisps of steam, showing the locations of hot spots.
In areas with a layer of ash covering the ground, ash will turn a darker gray as it absorbs rain. The water will evaporate over warmer areas and ash will turn lighter again. Firefighters watch for pale patches of ash and dig for buried heat under them. Some spots will be barely warm, but others will be hot coals. The damp ash and soil can be mixed with the embers to extinguish them, reducing the need for pumps and hoses to relay water.
Fire hoses, pumps, and fittings such as nozzles can be safely removed from much of the fire perimeter. Surplus equipment is carried back to roads and other access points, then transported back to the Incident Command Post (ICP) near Merlin.
Most of the smoke in the air around the Rum Creek Fire and Josephine County is coming from other fires. Air flow is bringing smoke from Cedar Creek Fire near Oakridge and several northern California fires.
Sheltering operations are at Josephine County Fairgrounds for those who have a need.