Rainstorms are a ‘mixed blessing’ for thousands of firefighters battling California’s historic wildfires


Posted on: September 4th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

@MelinaSardar/Twitter(LOS ANGELES) — Some residents in southern California are returning to their homes after a brief reprieve from the scorching heat.

Los Angelenos spent their Labor Day weekend breathing in nasty air and staring above at a gray and jaundiced sky caused by record heat and 25 raging wildfires.

According to Los Angeles Fire Department officials, 1,400 evacuees in three cities — Los Angeles, Burbank and Glendale — can safely reoccupy the homes they fled when the fires posed a threat.

A series of windy rain showers on Sunday evening helped beat back the La Tuna blaze that started on Sept. 1, which has destroyed more than 7,000 acres of wild brush fuel, Los Angeles Fire Department officials confirmed.

“The moisture helped us,” Los Angeles Fire Capt. Ralph Terrazas said at a press conference on Monday.

But he stressed it was a “mixed blessing” because the rain brought with it “erratic” winds.

“The wind will continue to be an always will create problems,” he said.

And while the fire is only 30 percent contained, Terrazas said he expects that number to increase because “there’s really no active fire left.”

The La Tuna fire, which so far torched four homes and injured at least four firefighters, has been touted as the largest fire in Los Angeles County history.

The blaze prompted the mayor of Los Angeles to take note in a tweet Sunday.

Fire backing down from ridgelines, making it easier to fight. No FF injuries so far. Great work @LAFD @LACo_FD @GlendaleCAFire @BurbankCA EG

— Eric Garcetti (@ericgarcetti) September 2, 2017

And California Gov. Jerry Brown subsequently declared a state of emergency.

Thank you @JerryBrownGov for your emergency proclamation. This helps us get the resources we need to finish this fire off. #LaTunaFire EG pic.twitter.com/VfToLZBhFF

— Eric Garcetti (@ericgarcetti) September 3, 2017

Terrazas cautioned, however, that the 1961 Bel Air fire, which destroyed almost 500 homes and consumed around 17,000 acres, may still stand as the city’s largest.

As the fire scares slowed, officials were monitoring the thunderstorms, many of which were caused by remnants of Tropical Storm Lidia, that has brought the region gusty winds and storms that could deliver flash floods, mudslides and lightning.

Terrazas said he was “very concerned” because of the potential for ashed vegetation from the fire running off and possibly clogging the city’s various basins.

To mitigate the threat of mudslides and flooding, Terrazas said a fleet of bulldozers was being employed to “clear out” these basins.

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