Relief appears to be on the way for victims of Northern California's devastating Camp Fire, in more ways than one.
The National Weather Service now has "high confidence" that a wet pattern will develop by late next week with periods of potentially heavy precipitation and mountain snow, although exact timing and amounts are uncertain.
"Onshore flow and precipitation should substantially aid in current fire fighting efforts," forecasters say in a weather outlook emailed to reporters.
The weather service expects dry conditions to persist at least through this weekend, with smoke and poor air quality lingering through early next week. Gusty northeasterly winds expected Saturday night into early Sunday over the west slope Sierra Nevada and foothills will bring a period of critical fire weather conditions, the meteorologists say.
Periods of rain are expected to begin early Wednesday and continue through next weekend, with potentially heavy rain at times. Forecasters also anticipate accumulating mountain snow Wednesday through next weekend at or below pass levels.
The forecast offers a ray of hope as nearly 5,600 firefighters are battling the Camp Fire in Butte County, which had burned 142,000 acres and was 45 percent contained as of Friday. The fire has killed 63 people as hundreds are still missing, while destroying 9,844 residences, 336 commercial buildings and 2,076 other buildings, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Damage to agriculture has yet to be tabulated.
The U.S. Forest Service, which is part of the USDA, is providing 485 personnel, including five crews, three helicopters, 66 engines, and two bulldozers, according to a news release.
"The people of California are in need of our support," says James Hubbard, the USDA's Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. "USDA's Forest Service firefighters and law enforcement are standing shoulder to shoulder with our citizens, state and local partners to help communities recover and stop the devastation.”
Farm Bureaus provide relief
Meanwhile, the California Farm Bureau Federation has established a Farm and Rural Disaster Fund to assist farms, ranches and rural communities hurt by wildfires, floods and other natural disasters, according to a news release.
Created under the California Bountiful Foundation—a charitable foundation established by CFBF—the fund will collect monetary contributions to aid communities affected by natural disasters, the release explains.
“All too often, we’ve seen rural areas of California wracked by fires, floods and other natural disasters,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson says. “We created the Farm and Rural Disaster Fund in response to our members’ request to be able to provide aid to farms, ranches and rural communities that have suffered losses.”
Online contributions to the fund may be made online via the CFBF website at www.cfbf.com or the California Bountiful website at www.californiabountiful.com, following the Farm and Rural Disaster Fund link. People who prefer to donate by postal mail may do so by sending a check, payable to California Bountiful Foundation, to California Bountiful Foundation; Farm and Rural Disaster Fund; 2300 River Plaza Drive; Sacramento, CA 95833; Attn: Financial Services.
In addition, county Farm Bureaus have begun relief efforts specific to the Camp Fire. The Butte County Farm Bureau and Butte Ag Foundation have created a Camp Fire Animal Agriculture Assistance Fund. The fund will accept monetary donations dedicated to feeding, housing and maintaining livestock displaced by the fire that are being cared for at the Butte County Fairgrounds. For more information, see www.butteagfoundation.org.
The Colusa County Farm Bureau has begun a children’s book drive to benefit elementary schools and families in the Paradise area. For information on how to donate new or gently used children’s books, contact the Colusa County Farm Bureau at 530-458-5130 or the Butte County Farm Bureau at 530-533-1473.