Return of rain a sight for sore eyes, especially for those fighting wildfires

Cal Fire has been holding its collective breath for months over concerns about wildfires in the Bay Area. But with rain in the immediate forecast, firefighters may finally be able to exhale.

"We celebrated last night when we heard raindrops on the skylight," said Cal Fire Division Chief Angela Bernheisel.

The forecast calls for light rains much of the week. But it is expected to get heavier over the weekend.

"The fuels are going to need a significant amount of rain to change the moisture content," said Bernheisel.

The North Bay is expected to be the wettest with possibly seeing five inches over the next week says the National Weather Service.

"Even if we dry out for the rest of the calendar year this will at least put a dent in things for a little while," said Brian Garcia, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

Wildfires have hammered Sonoma and Napa counties the past few years. Last year it was the Glass Fire, which destroyed more than 1,500 buildings.
There was great concern a similar scene could come this year.

"We seem as if right now, at least in the North Bay, we have dodged a bullet. Rain is a welcome site especially here in Santa Rosa," said Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal.

But the coming rains are creating concerns over fire scars. The  Glass Fire scorched more than 67,000 acres in 2020.

With no vegetation to absorb it, if the rain is heavy enough, it could create mudflows, leaving residents to quickly pivot from fire to rain.

"Now we have to shift gears and start educating these same residents about the risks of living around the burn scars," said Lowenthal.

Water utilities say that will take many more rainstorms to put an end to the drought.