Rain Affecting Firefight at Labrador

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CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. — The Labrador Fire in Josephine County is still zero percent contained. On Thursday, crews were unable to utilize helicopters because of visibility issues.

Since the start of the fire firefighters could not fight the flames on foot very well because of the rough and dangerous terrain. A fire assessment team with the U.S. Forest Service says the fire will continue to grow until a season-ending rain will put it out. While firefighters welcome the rain to potentially put out the fire it’s causing dangerous conditions to be outside.

There is more rain coming down at the command post, as opposed to where crews say they need it. If the rain continues, the fire assessment team is concerned about short-term flash flooding. The roads leading up to the Labrador Fire can turn into mud. Considering, crews driving water tenders with thousands of pounds in the back, slippery roads are extremely dangerous.

Incident Meteorologist Julia Ruthford is tracking the rainfall and lightning strikes in real-time. She’s able to monitor the levels of rain and warn crews about specific areas around the Labrador Fire.

“For both starting new fires and if they’re working out in the field potentially to get struck by lightning or if they’re up in a ridge top that would be particularity dangerous so I’m trying to give them a heads up so they can get away from the dangerous spots, and down lower or in a vehicle,” said Ruthford.

Ruthford can also track the storm in 3-D. The program she uses takes all of the information from a weather radar. It can show her which storms are growing or lessening in specific areas. Currently, there is one team out near the perimeter of the fire.