Mother Nature Helps Crews Tame Williams Flats Fire

Aug 12, 2019

Heavy rains that fall on or near the Williams Flats fire near Keller, Washington made traveling difficult for heavy fire equipment.
Credit Northwest Interagency Incident Management

Cooler, wetter weather has helped crews battling a large wildfire burning on the Colville Indian Reservation.

Fire spokesman Michael Krueger says as much as two inches of rain fell Saturday and Sunday on areas in and around the fire.

“We went from a panic, kind of a ’what are we going to do?’ situation to really being pretty calm about the whole thing," Krueger said. "By no means is the fire out, but we’re starting to let crews go.”

Krueger says the heavy rains that fell during the weekend dampened the fire’s progress, but also caused problems for firefighters caught in the downpour. He says, in a few cases, equipment is stranded.

“The road has washed out or the sides of the road have washed out and these wide pieces of equipment can’t manage that narrow a spot," he said.

Some roads were slick right after the rains and equipment traveling too quickly have slid off.

The fire has burned about 44,000 acres, roughly the same as before the weekend, and it’s considered 45% contained. Krueger says that means there’s a 50-to-100 foot-wide fire line dug around 45% of the fire.

The weather will be warmer and drier the first part of the week, with temperatures back in the 80s.