More Than Just Firefighters Fighting Fires

, Written by RaeAnn Christensen, Posted: Wed, August 7 2013 at 6:00 PM, Updated: Fri, August 9 2013 at 7:54 PM

We all know there are thousands of firefighters on the front lines battling the flames.

But behind the scenes another very important operation is happening.

"It's definitely a vital part of the firefighting effort," says Steve Weishaar, Incident Meterologist for the National Weather Service.

Steve Weishaar from the National Weather Service is the IMET or Incident Meteorologist for the Douglas Complex fire.

"My main job is to make sure to keep the firefighters safe," says Weishaar.

With thunderstorms looming for the rest of the week.

Weishaar says "thats been the primary talk for the last 2-3 days."

His already important job, now becomes very vital.

"Weishaar notes "I've really got to watch things and make sure these storms don't go over them and cause any problems."

Weishaar works with a fire behavior analyst or FBAN, who takes Weishaar information and topography and determines a fire forecast.

"It's important for firefighter safety. This is a complex fire, it's large and there's more than one fire," says Dennis Perilli, Fire Behavior Analyst for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

 And they are hoping there won't be anymore sparked.

"We are going to transition from a dry threat to a wet threat," says Weishaar.

More lightning, possible flash flooding.

For this IMET and FBAN team already working a high priority fire...

"Is that a lot of pressure?....It can be at times, but uh ya it can be at times definitely. There are some things that in the weather that are such small scale that you cant really forecast or see that could have serious impacts on firefighting efforts." Says Weishaar.

The Douglas Complex has burned more than 40,000 acres now.

Right now it is still at 17% containment.

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About the Author

RaeAnn Christensen

NBC 5 News Reporter and Weather Forecaster RaeAnn Christensen earned a Bachelors degree from Weber State University, majoring in Communications and Broadcast Journalism.

RaeAnn started her career as a Producer for two local stations where she grew up in Utah. Working for the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City, she won local awards for producing, and also became an Emmy award winning producer.

RaeAnn enjoys traveling, hiking, biking, cooking, country dancing, and spending time with her family and friends.

Catch RaeAnn's weekend weather forecasts for Southern Oregon and Northern California Saturdays and Sundays at 6pm and 11pm. Also online at

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