Rain Helps Put Out California's Deadliest Fire

But downpour will bring new hazards
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2018 4:37 PM CST
Rain Helps Put Out California's Deadliest Fire
Amy Sheppard packs up items outside her tent in a Walmart parking lot in Chico, Calif., that's been a makeshift campground for people displaced by wildfire, Wednesday morning, Nov. 21, 2018.   (AP Photo/Kathleen Ronayne)

(Newser) – The deadliest wildfire in California is now 90% contained after firefighters got some help from the region's first major rainstorm of the season. The rain in northern California also helped bring the Bay Area's air quality from a "very unhealthy" rating to "good," though it has also caused hazards including mudslides and worsened the situation for wildfire evacuees still camping outside, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The rain, which began Wednesday, hasn't been heavy enough to cause floods in areas affected by the fire, but with heavier rain expected to begin late Thursday, authorities have stepped up efforts to find the remains of victims in the burn area.

As of Thursday, the death toll stood at 83, with another 563 people unaccounted for, the Enterprise-Record reports. Authorities warn that the flooding risk will increase as the rain gets heavier. California Task Force 4 rescue officer Brian Ferreira tells CNN that the heavy rain forecast for Butte County will make it even more difficult to find human remains in the devastated town of Paradise. If the rain washes away ash containing remains, "it's out of our hands at that point," he says. "We're going to go as hard as we can, as long as we can, until we can't go anymore. That's what's going to happen." (Businesses and volunteers are making sure evacuees get Thanksgiving dinner.)

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