Rain helps increase containment of huge California wildfire
SAN FRANCISCO — A major storm that battered western Alaska over the weekend churned through Northern California on Monday after bringing early season snow to mountains and dropping rain that helped firefighters increase their containment of a huge wildfire.
Snow and ice in the eastern Sierra Nevada led officials to close State Route 108 high up over the Sonora Pass, the California Department of Transportation said Sunday.
The 119-square-mile Mosquito Fire in the Sierra foothills northeast of Sacramento was 38% contained after downpours on Sunday, allowing sheriff's officials in two counties to lift or downgrade some evacuation orders. It's the state's largest wildfire of the year so far.
More rain was expected, which fire spokesman Scott McLean called a mixed blessing for firefighters.
"It did help a bit to stifle that aggressive fire," McLean said. "But we're going to have new safety issues now with all the mud that's out there. And the ground moisture could cause some of those damaged trees to fall over."
Lingering showers over the Mosquito Fire will increase the risk of ash and mud flows, the National Weather Service said. To the north, localized flooding and mudslides were reported in parts of the Coast Range scarred from a massive wildfire two years ago.
Scattered rain was expected throughout the day from Sacramento north to Redding, forecasters said. The weather service cautioned drivers that roads could be slick and commutes could take longer.
Heavy rain fell Sunday across Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties north of San Francisco, with more than an inch recorded over 24 hours in some mountain areas, the National Weather Service said. Flood advisories for the Bay Area expired early Monday.
Bands of rain stretched south into Santa Cruz County and along the Central Coast, but they weren't expected to reach Southern California.