General Question

SergeantQueen's avatar

Is rain enough to put out large fires?

Asked by SergeantQueen (10378points) 1 week ago

Mainly talking about huge fires such as what is happening in the west coast.

I know it seems like a dumb question, but when we put smaller fires out we usually dump a whole bucket of water on it. These forest fires are miles big and have a lot of things that are igniting it (like leaves and twigs) and rain doesn’t come down in big sheets like throwing a bucket of water out would do, rain is just droplets.

Would it take a huge thunderstorm? How long would it have to last?

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9 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Depending on how hard it rains and how long and how wide, it could drown out the fires where the rain happens. Rain would be a huge help. It also would wet the forest surrounding the fire areas so the fire can’t spread as easily. It would give some relief to firefighters also.

Although, possibly firefighters are also setting fires to control the fires.

It’s horrible. It’s so widespread and seems unending.

West coast Jellies I’m sure are more up to date on specifics.

Jeruba's avatar

No thunderstorm, please. The last one seemed exciting at the time, being so rare, but lightning struck more than 12,000 times and started the fires that are destroying us now.

lastexit's avatar

Sometimes rains can actually hinder efforts to put out large wildfires if there is back burning. However, I haven’t heard whether or not we are doing that. We have a policy of aggressive fire suppression in California but there is now talk of changing that so we can set controlled burns. I’m near the Bobcat fire in Los Angeles County and heard that the fire was nearing an area that hasn’t burned in 60 years. That would go up like a tinder box. I think it would be a good idea to start doing controlled burns in areas such as that as a preventative measure. Currently I’m living in a city that is on evacuation notice.

kritiper's avatar

It could be if it was long enough and heavy enough. At best it would knock the fire down to the point where it could be easily contained.

zenvelo's avatar

A good long rain can help quite a bit, but it doesn’t end things.

I was up near Hetch Hetchy in the spring of 2014, where a large fire had gone though the previous fall. The rangers warned us to not attempt to move any downed logs, because even after the rains and snows of winter, there was still smoldering timber.

Demosthenes's avatar

It could help manage and contain it, I don’t know that it would actually put it out. It’s the winds that really exacerbate the fires.
Unfortunately California at least will likely see no rain until October and if previous patterns persist, many regions will see none until late November. Fire season has a long way to go.

YARNLADY's avatar

Only if it is wide spread and several hours or days. Even snow is not enough.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I occasionally start a bonfire in a large fire pit in my orchard. i can tell from experience rain will not put it out. Rain will however put out small embers and still burning ash that flies up into the air.
In the case of a forest fire rain would help reduce the starting or spread of other fires and help contain the main fire. A burning ember that can start a fire if it lands on dry grass, leaves or branches will likely snuff out if it lands on a soaking wet surface.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Apparently I read when in out Town we experienced the smoke effects from wildfires in another neighboring province that fire can go down to the depth of 30 feet!

That’s why they ( Firefighters/maintenance) continually soak the ground ,,it can take months to extinguish.
By the way as a note of effects : In the Fort MacMurray, Alberta Canada Fires one mans home was sparred as he had left his garden hose running continuously ( he had hose extensions secured on the rooftop with the water running downwards covering the home ).
In the End his was the only house untouched.
He also had barriers surrounding his property..but can’t remember if stones or dugouts ?
Anyways it worked for him.

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