Twin Rainstorms Headed for Northern California Could Help and Hurt Efforts to Put Out Deadly Camp Fire

The Camp Fire consumes trees in Northern California in this undated handout photo.
United States Forest Service/National Wildfire Coordinating Group / via EPA

Twin storms are headed for rural Northern California this week, bringing conditions that could both help and hinder efforts to put out the Camp Fire, the deadliest blaze in the state’s history, officials said Monday.

Heavy downpours are predicted for Paradise, California, and surrounding areas, where at least 77 people have been killed in the wildfire that’s been raging for nearly two weeks, authorities said.

The first rains are expected to hit on Wednesday morning and to continue until a brief respite on Thursday afternoon or evening, according to NBC meteorologist Kathryn Prociv.

Then another round of showers is forecast to come Friday and last through Saturday morning, with the two storms together bringing between at least 1 inch and as much as 3 inches of rain, Prociv added.

The precipitation itself won’t put out the fire, but could moisten the earth and slow the killer blaze’s spread, Sacramento City Fire Capt. Keith Wade told NBC News on Monday.

“Will it (rain) extinguish the fire? No. But it could hinder its ability to spread,” said Wade, who is in Butte County helping local firefighters.

The problem could be if rain totals push beyond 3 inches. That’s when rivers and streams could flood, and rain-soaked earth could become mud capable of trapping firetrucks.

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SOURCE: NBC News, David K. Li