From fires to floods: Bighorn Fire crews gear up for monsoon

Updated: Jul. 2, 2020 at 10:31 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - All eyes are on mother nature as firefighters continue to fight the Bighorn Fire.

Crews are getting some relief from the super strong wind gusts last week.

“We’ve had some exceptional weather with this fire,” said Incident Meteorologist Carl Cerniglia.

The Bighorn Fire has seen dynamic weather from the start. Keeping incident meteorologists busy as they try to track its next move to give firefighters a heads up.

“The idea for us being here is to let them know what they’re going to be given.”

Their first problem was the wind.

“That wind event was one of the strongest wind events recorded for this late in June going back in the records in Tucson.”

It pushed the fire to more than 118 thousand acres, but thankfully gusts are beginning to slow and humidity is rising.

But now, a new uphill battle stands in their way.

"We go from fires to floods in a very short period of time," said Cerniglia.

It’s easy to think that rain on a wildfire would do a world of good. Cerniglia said rain in doses is welcome, but strong storms can lead to more damage.

“Over a burn scar if you get intense short duration rain fall the ground because of the heat has become hydrophobic which means it will just shed the water almost like a wax job on your car.”

The incident meteorologists know it’s only a matter of time before mother nature brings a storm and flooding comes with it. It’s where control leaves their hands and is now up to you to be ready.

“It’s all about preparation and people actually taking the effort to do that.”

Cerniglia said heavy rain doesn’t appear to be on it’s way in the next week, but it will come.

So as they gear up for the switch in fire threats, they hope homeowners will too, while it’s the calm before the storm.

“We need to be ready and able to deal with this right through the entire monsoon season.”

Cerniglia said he doesn’t think there will be large growth over the next few days thanks to the higher humidity at night.

However, he says all it takes is one misplaced thunderstorm at the wrong time of day to see it move quickly once again.

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