Rain helps increase containment of huge California wildfire

Sep 18, 2022, 7:17 PM | Updated: Sep 19, 2022, 9:36 am
Rain drenches streets in Chinatown in San Francisco, on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. The rainstorm is a ...

Rain drenches streets in Chinatown in San Francisco, on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. The rainstorm is a dramatic shift of events for many residents after a record heat wave and grueling wildfire season. (Brontë Wittpenn/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

(Brontë Wittpenn/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A major storm that battered western Alaska over the weekend churned through Northern California on Monday after bringing early-season snow to mountains and dropping rain that helped firefighters increase their containment of a huge wildfire.

No growth was reported on the 119-square-mile (308-square-kilometer) Mosquito Fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills northeast of Sacramento. The blaze was 38% contained Monday after downpours allowed sheriff’s officials in two counties to lift or downgrade some evacuation orders. It’s the state’s largest wildfire of the year so far.

More rain was expected, which fire spokesman Scott McLean called a mixed blessing for firefighters.

“It did help a bit to stifle that aggressive fire,” McLean said. “But we’re going to have new safety issues now with all the mud that’s out there. And the ground moisture could cause some of those damaged trees to fall over.”

Lingering showers over the Mosquito Fire will increase the risk of ash and mud flows, the National Weather Service said. To the northwest, localized flooding and mudslides were reported in parts of the Coast Range scarred from a massive wildfire two years ago.

Snow and ice in the eastern Sierra Nevada on Sunday led officials to close State Route 108 high up over the Sonora Pass, the California Department of Transportation said. The pass reopened Monday.

To the north, roads remained closed at Lassen Volcanic National Park “due to expected snow accumulation,” but the park’s main entrances was open, officials said in a statement.

Scattered rain was expected throughout the day from Sacramento north to Redding, forecasters said. The weather service cautioned drivers that roads could be slick and commutes could take longer.

Heavy rain fell Sunday across Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties north of San Francisco, with more than an inch (2.5 centimeters) recorded over 24 hours in some mountain areas, the National Weather Service said. Flood advisories for the Bay Area expired early Monday.

Bands of rain stretched south into Santa Cruz County and along the Central Coast, where Highway 1 was briefly closed because of flooding in Big Sur. Precipitation wasn’t expected to reach Southern California.

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Rain helps increase containment of huge California wildfire