Light rain, cooler temperatures and higher humidity in the last 24 hours have helped firefighters in their effort to contain the Rough Fire. The blaze has now consumed 139,000 acres and is 40 percent contained, though officials expect the containment number to rise later today. 

While the rain has helped the fight, it wasn't been enough to extinguish the fire. It also has forced firefighters to change their tactics, by making it more difficult to intentionally set brush on fire in efforts to contain the main blaze by depriving it of fuel. 

U.S. Forest Service Says Conditions Ideal For Megafires in California

Jul 6, 2015
US Forest Service - Rim Fire 2013

Drought, dead and dying trees, and a lack of snow in California have left national forests in a perfect condition for large and severe wildfires. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the new mix has the U.S. Forest Service re-examining how it manages fire.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In the Sierra Nevada, above Fresno, North Fork Mono Indians are working to thin the forest. The group's goal is twofold. Save water and prevent large-scale forest fires. North Fork Mono Indians have been using this approach for centuries, but now California's severe drought means these ancient techniques are being looked at as a possible long-term solution. From Valley Public Radio, Ezra David Romero reports.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Forest managers throughout California say that thinning forests to a more natural state is a good way to reduce the severity of wildfires. Now scientists suggest that it also could offer help in saving water in the drought. 

Researchers at UC Merced think that thinning overgrown forests throughout the Sierra could result in as much as a million acre feet of extra water each year for the state. That’s enough water to fill Pine Flat Lake on the Kings River east of Fresno.

Heyday Books

California’s isn’t just home to internationally renowned gems like Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks – it’s also a place that’s rich in its own human history. And while many stories, like the Gold Rush and Hetch Hetchy are well known, a new book seeks to document the “hidden history” of the Sierra. It’s called “Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots and Rogues” by author Gary Noy, a history professor at Rocklin College.

The Fish Fire, which was sparked by lightning  in the remote Golden Trout Wilderness has now grown to over 1,450 acres.

Officials report that the fire is just 7 percent contained. It is burning in a remote area within the Sequoia National Forest about 25 miles northeast of Springville, near the Kern River. The fire has grown by 450 acres since Sunday.

Fire officials from Arizona are managing the blaze. Approximately 213 personnel are battling the fire. Due to the remote nature of the site, supplies must be delivered by helicopter or by pack animals. 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

More wildfires.  Warmer lakes.  And higher temperatures.  A new study from the California Environmental Protection Agency cites those and other signs that climate change is having a growing impact across the state.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

CalEPA has been tracking environmental indicators since the year 2000 in hopes of measuring the effects of climate change.  Here are some of the findings in the new study, based on 36 different indicators:

-       California’s high, low and average temperatures are going up – especially at night.

What Snow? Final Snow Survey Yields Dry Results

May 2, 2013
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The season’s final snow survey in California found what most expected – dry conditions. Snow surveyors found absolutely no snow on the ground at Phillips Station, nearly 7,000 feet up Echo Summit in the Sierras.

Water content in California’s snowpack is only 17 percent of normal, meaning a below average water supply this summer.

Frank Gehrke with the Department of Water Resources says despite that, most reservoirs are near normal levels for the date thanks to early winter storms.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The next to the last snow survey of the season shows extremely dry conditions for California. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it has prompted the Department of Natural Resources to call the security of the state’s water supply “threatened.”

 The bad news: the water content in California’s snowpack is only 52 percent of normal. What’s worse, the spring melt is underway. While the season started with water content above 130 percent of normal in January, it’s been unusually dry ever since. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we take a hike into the foothills of Fresno County. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero takes the listener on a journey through the McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve run by the Sierra Foothill Conservancy. Jeannette Tuitele – Lewis, executive director of the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, joins host Juanita Stevenson in a discussion surrounding the Valley locale, its ties to the community and future dates for preserve exploration.