Rains give firefighters a break but Forester says danger far from over

Rain this week - the first real precipitation of the summer - gave firefighters across Nevada a welcome break.

The rains started Tuesday and Wednesday came with far fewer lightning strikes than weathermen had expected.

"Wet stuff - I forgot what it looked like," said State Forester Steve Robinson. "It's great, just to give these guys some rest - in the northeast part of the state in particular."

The rain - with only a few lightning strikes in Western Nevada and a few in Elko - was especially welcome because of the restrictions on flights by fire retardant bombers in the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. While fire officials had limited permission to fly, they were still concerned that would slow response times if lightning started a major blaze.

But Robinson said the rain doesn't mean the fire danger is over.

"Things are just so dry - driest back to '88, and I'm not talking 1988, I'm talking 1888," he said. "Old timers say they've never seen it this dry and these guys are in their 90s."

But while the "sprinkles" won't end the fire danger for this season, Robinson said they are giving crews a welcome break to rest, repair their equipment and concentrate on the remnants of fires that have now consumed 600,000 acres of Nevada.

"We will take it and be thankful for it," he said.

Robinson said, unfortunately, the long range forecast "is not looking good."

He said after a little precipitation expected this month, the National Weather Service expects October and November to be dry.

"If we don't get some precipitation this year, there's going to be no place for our buckets to pick up water in Nevada next year because all the storage is gone," he said.

In the meantime, he said there are no large fires - over 300 acres - in Nevada and crews are working on mop-up operations all the way from Elko to the Star fire in California east of Lake Tahoe.


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