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Lower temperatures help firefighters boost containment of Fawn fire

Milder temperatures helped firefighters battling the Fawn fire north of Redding boost containment of the blaze significantly by Sunday as crews try to make the most out of what’s expected to be a short-lived cooling trend.

The Fawn fire had burned 8,537 acres and was 35% contained as of Sunday morning, up from 10% a day earlier, officials said. The blaze has destroyed 131 structures and damaged 12. Alexandra Souverneva, 30, of Palo Alto, was charged with arson in connection with the fire.

More than 1,800 fire personnel have been assigned to the blaze, which erupted Wednesday afternoon and quickly spread amid high temperatures and gusty winds, forcing evacuations. But in the last day, a cooling trend took hold in the region, helping firefighters to make progress on the blaze, said Jeremy Hollingshead, a public information officer for the California Incident Management Team 4.

“The personnel on this fire are working around the clock to improve containment and get this fire under control,” he said. “Right now we have the wind and the weather in our favor and we’re using that to our advantage. We’re being very aggressive.”

A storm system moving into the Pacific Northwest on Monday night into Tuesday will keep temperatures about 10 degrees below average in the fire area and could bring about a tenth of an inch of rain.

Typically, precipitation amounting to more than a tenth of an inch can dampen some of the finer fuels like grasses, said Bill Rasch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

However, Rasch warned that’s “probably not going to happen” with this system. After the storm passes, the region could once again see drier and windier conditions, he said.

Still, firefighters are taking advantage of lower temperatures and higher overnight humidity levels to get the upper hand on the blaze, Hollingshead said.

“We’re not going to let up,” he said.

Nearly 350 miles southeast of the Fawn fire, the 44,828-acre KNP Complex fire continued to grow in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. Authorities reported 8% containment as of Sunday morning.

The nearby Windy fire, which is burning in the Tule River Reservation and Sequoia National Forest, had grown to 78,482 acres and was 2% contained as of Sunday morning. The blaze was sparked by lightning Sept. 9.

Heavy smoke in the area had made air drops challenging for crews early in the weekend as the blaze made its way south burning up dead, dry and beetle-infested trees. Crews are hoping cooler conditions and slightly higher humidity levels will help lift some of the smoke, said Chris Cimorelli, a public information officer for the California Incident Management Team 5.

“It’s good news for any kind of air suppressant, but that also means the fire activity could pick up because you’re introducing more oxygen into the fire,” he said.



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