Video of impressive fire whirls in Nebraska

Above: Screen capture from the video by Jon Krause.

Twitter user @JonLKrause posted videos of a large, long-lasting dust devil/fire whirl that persisted over a prescribed fire at Kramper Lake near Hubbard, Nebraska for about five minutes on Tuesday April 11.


Sometimes these are called “firenadoes” but this one did not have much fire in it. Dust devils and fire whirls can occur on days when the atmosphere is unstable. The heat from what remained of the fire and the solar heating of the blackened ground probably contributed to the phenomenon. It is interesting that after moving to the edge of the lake it still persisted for a while before dying out.

fire whirl dust devil
Screen capture from the video by Jon Krause.

Prescribed fire along Rio Grande River

Above: photo of prescribed fire along the Rio Grande River supplied by the National Park Service.

Big Bend National Park in southern Texas conducted a prescribed burn along the Rio Grande River earlier this month in cooperation with Mexico. The objective was to burn out invasive river cane and promote a healthier river ecosystem.

A year ago we wrote about how the park cooperates with Mexico, borrowing their firefighters to assist with wildfires and prescribed fires.

Los Diablos
Screen Grab from The Atlantic’s documentary about a fire crew from Mexico that assists a U.S. National Park.

Interview with a lead plane pilot in Chile

In case you missed it, here is the interview we conducted with veteran lead plane pilot Jamie Tackman in January after he had been working with the 19,200-gallon 747 Supertanker in Chile.

After 17 years as a ground based wildland firefighter in the United States, with much as it as a smokejumper, Jamie transitioned to the air, becoming a lead plane pilot. He has worked off and on with the 747 air tankers since Evergreen converted the first one. Now retired from the U.S. Forest Service, he traveled to Chile to provide lead plane services for the huge aircraft operated by Global SuperTankers. This time he had a different role, or at least a different platform, flying ahead of the air tanker as usual but in an aircraft flown by military pilots.

Bill Gabbert interviewed Jamie, who began by describing the situation. Chile has no infrastructure for supervising, using, or refilling large or very large air tankers and they were unfamiliar with the concept of lead planes. In spite of these challenges the personnel working with the 747 and the other aircraft developed procedures to fight the fires from the air, while the local firefighters improvised a system on the ground for refilling the 747 and the IL-76 with water.

747 Supertanker in Santiago, Chile,
The 747 Supertanker being reloaded in Santiago, Chile, January 28, 2017. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

“Vegetation” involved in fire on roof of Las Vegas hotel

A fire on the roof of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas created quite a show for people who came to watch the fancy water fountain display Thursday night. The Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote that styrofoam facades burned, but it appears that real or fake vegetation on the roof may have also been involved.

Firefighters were able to knock down the wind-driven fire about 25 minutes after it was first reported.

At least there was a wet line on one flank of the fire:

This reminds us of a similar fire on another hotel roof in Vegas in 2015. Here is a screenshot of part of that article:

Cosmopolitan Hotel Fire egas, 2015
Cosmopolitan Hotel Fire, Las Vegas, 2015.

Prescribed fire at Lacreek

The Fish and Wildlife Service has been conducting prescribed fires at Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge southeast of Martin, South Dakota (map) over the last couple of days.

These photos were taken today by the F&WS as they added another 630 acres to the total area treated with fire.prescribed fire lacreek national wildlife refuge prescribed fire lacreek national wildlife refuge

prescribed fire lacreek national wildlife refuge


Smoke map, April 13, 2017

Residents in the Northern and Central Plains have been experiencing vegetation fire smoke today. Much of it has come from agricultural or prescribed burning in Missouri and the Flint Hills of Kansas. The map above, an experimental product from NOAA’s Earth Central Research Laboratory, shows the estimate of where the smoke would be at 8 p.m. MDT on April 13.

The map below shows the locations of fires, wild or prescribed, and AirNow’s estimate of a smoke plume.

air now smoke fires map