CRATER LAKE — Late this morning, crews fighting the National Creek fire complex weren't getting much help from the rain. Snow, on the other hand, was doing a pretty good job subbing in, fire officials said.
"It's snowing right now," fire public information officer Lucinda Nolan told the Mail Tribune at about 11:30 a.m. "We have a good quarter-inch of snow.
"I'm going to say it's helping."
The lightning-sparked fires, burning in the northwest part of Crater Lake National Park and the adjacent Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, has been active since Aug. 1. It has grown to 20,945 acres, but is at 85 percent containment, with full containment expected by Oct. 1.
The fire is seeing little growth, thanks to the snow, with rain and cooler temperatures in the forecast. That's made for low levels of drifting smoke in the Rogue Valley since Aug. 30. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality data shows Medford has had "good" air quality all but three days — Sept. 10-12, when air quality was at "moderate" — during that span.
A majority of the smoke was actually from wildfires still burning in California, according to the National Weather Service. The chance of additional smoke from those fires drifting into southwest Oregon in the coming days is slim, forecasters added.
"It really doesn't look like (air) flow's conducive to bringing that smoke up here," said meteorologist Tom Wright, adding ongoing precipitation is helping temper the California blazes, too. "This'll probably put a couple more nails in the coffins of those fires."
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.