Steady storm reduces KNP Complex Fire to smolder

Already 63% contained last week, recent rain, snowfall all but extinguished the KNP Complex Fire

THREE RIVERS – The more than 1.5 inches of rain on Monday cleared the Valley air of dust, smog and smoke and, more importantly, tamped down a hellish fire in the Sierra Nevada.

The statewide storm soaked the valley floor and boosted containment on the KNP Complex Fire with snowfall, nature’s extinguishing foam. Firefighters had already fought back the wildfire raging through the Sequoia National Park and Sequoia National Forest and countless groves of giant sequoias, among the oldest living things on earth. More than 500 personnel, seven fire crews, 15 engines, four water tenders, seven helicopters and two dozers worked tirelessly over the last 47 days to contain the fire.

Even before the rains arrived, the fire was at 63% containment and fire crews were already transitioning to suppression repair work in areas of the fire that were not contained but had not shown any movement, according to the California incident management team. As of Oct. 25, the KNP Complex Fire had burned 88,307 acres since it was ignited by lightning on Sept. 10.

Firefighters will now be utilizing Minimal Impact Suppression Techniques or Minimal Impact Suppression Tactics (MIST), a method of firefighting designed to minimize the effects of fire suppression activities on the land, wildlife, watersheds, and facilities. MIST has established several guidelines utilized protect these resources while accounting for firefighter safety. Some of these methods include allowing fires to burn to natural barriers; using the minimum depth and width of fire containment lines to check the fire’s spread while disturbing the ground as little as possible; using equipment such as excavators and rubber-tired tractors instead of dozers; cutting shrubs or small trees only when necessary; cutting trees or snags only when they threaten containment lines or the safety of personnel and avoiding dropping retardant or other suppressants within 300 feet of surface water when possible, to name a few.

When doing suppression repair work, fire crews will scatter any small trees or large brush cut during containment line construction to give a more natural appearance. Woodchippers can be used to reduce vegetation and spread organic material to conceal bare soil areas. Soil and decomposing plant material (duff), which was dug out to stop the fire spread should be spread back where it was removed.

Waterbars can be constructed on slopes greater than six percent to intercept water flowing down-hill and divert it to areas with more vegetation and more soil stability. Crews also work to remove all signs of human activity, such as flagging, trash, and equipment.

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