CHELAN, Wash. - The Carlton Complex fire will now go down in Washington state history books as the largest wildfire since statehood. It's not going down without a fight but neither are the firefighters working tirelessly to knock it out.
The fire, which has charred more than 243,000 acres, is 16-percent contained and Level 3 evacuations remain in effect in many areas.
On Tuesday, the rainfall was a welcome sign for firefighters especially with the increased humidity. Even though only light rain fell throughout the day this could be a turning point in containment efforts. However the optimism about turning the corner on the Carlton Complex is checked by the fact that there is still a lot more to be done before its fully contained.
"We never complain about seeing rain on the fire line that's for sure," said Carlton Complex East Public Information Officer Jeff Sevigney.
Around 6:30 a.m. the clouds opened up with a gift from heaven, if only a small one.
"While the rain is a good thing we still have a lot of work to do and firemen will still be out there today continuing on that work," said Sevigney.
On the east end, the battle focuses on North Cook Mountain, where will is still an issue and thunderstorms remain a real possibility.
"Until we get significant rainfall lightning will always be a concern," said Sevigney.
Miles away to the south, outside the burned city of Pateros, the Black Canyon continues to burn.
"We are going right along the fire's edge trying to put it out as we go, that way we don't have to wait for it to burn to us or to burn to it," said Black Canyon supervisor Abby Bolt.
"When we have a toe hold like this and a chance to get one, now is when we need to do it," Bolt added.
The 150 firefighters on the ground will dig five miles of fire line through steep terrain, the shift in weather making things just a fraction easier. Firefighters are making the most of what could be a small window of opportunity.
"I told them today is the day. You gotta get in there and make it happen so they are in there making big progress," said Bolt.
While the rain and more moderate temperature certainly helped, fire managers know they're not going to call this fire just yet.
"We are still mindful that this incident is extreme," Sevigney said.
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