Lime Fire: Incident meteorologist monitors weather for fire attack

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Officials report there are more than 600 people working on both the Lime Fire and the nearby Kidder Fire, but not all of them are firefighters. (Jennevieve Fong / KTVL)

The Lime Fire in Siskiyou County is continuing to grow, currently sitting at about 1,620 acres at zero percent containment.

Firefighters have been working hard day and night working to contain the fire. Officials report there are more than 600 people working on both the Lime Fire and the nearby Kidder 2 Fire, but not all of them are firefighters.

For example, Matt Mehle from the National Weather Service is an incident meteorologist for both fires. He said his job is to monitor the weather conditions and relay that information to the crews to keep them safe out on the fire lines.

“When it comes to actual wildfires, we have additional training,” Mehle said. “We know more about wildfire behavior and how weather can adversely impact the operations. I’m providing safety for the firefighters, so if I’m providing them safe communication they’re able to basically have a better course of action to fight the fire better.”

Just like forecasting the weather on a daily basis, Mehle said the weather conditions around a fire are also hard to predict.

“One of the biggest things that we deal with on fire is actually the wind,” Mehle said. “It’s one of the hardest things to actually predict. Complex terrain. Take a look at a map around Yreka. There’s a lot of mountains around here. A lot of river drainages. The winds can be squirrely and erratic at times. That’s what makes it challenging.”

Officials report cloudy weather on Monday disrupted operations for a bit, as the cloud cover prevented the use of some planes. As the skies cleared on Monday afternoon, the planes were once again used to help aid the fire suppression.

Mehle said the biggest safety concern for crews on Tuesday is the lightning. With a few scattered storms here in Siskiyou County so far, officials said none of the rain was able to reach the actual fire zone.

2019-09-11 00:02:13

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