Rod Dines of the Payette National Forest took these photos from an aircraft while flying over a wildfire near Winnemucca, Nevada.
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.
— Krause (@JonLKrause) April 12, 2017
— Krause (@JonLKrause) April 12, 2017
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.
Two firefighters suffered burn injuries March 9 while working on a prescribed fire in the panhandle of Texas and were airlifted to a hospital. The Borger Fire Department (map) has confirmed that two of their personnel, fire fighter Clay Lozier and fire chief Bob Watson, were injured transported to Lubbock for treatment.
According to Amarillo.com:
Borger Fire Chief Bob Watson remains in serious condition Saturday at the UMC Timothy J. Harnar Burn Center in Lubbock, according to BFD Lieutenant Stacy Nolen, and Borger firefighter Clay Lozier, who was injured in the same incident, has since been released from the burn unit.
News Channel 10 reports that the prescribed fire on the JA Ranch in Donley County was going well until a juniper tree torched, causing a spot fire. The firefighters almost had that contained when a fire whirl “threw fire 30 yards in every direction”, ranch owner Andrew Bivins said.
There was a burn ban in effect in Donley County but Texas law exempts prescribed fires from burn bans.
This gentleman created a do it yourself device for making what he calls a fire tornado. Generally in the wildland fire world we reserve that term for very large scale fire whirls that could be hundreds of feet in diameter. Fire whirls are much smaller and not terribly uncommon if the atmosphere is unstable.
What he made is interesting and no doubt fun to look at. But we feel compelled to point out some of the safety hazards if you were considering making something like this. Cutting glass with a 110-volt power tool cooled with a jerry-rigged running water setup is not the smartest thing in the world. Then there’s the liquid fuel burning in a cup.
Hopefully plugging something into a GFCI outlet will save me if something goes wrong.
There must be an easier way to construct a device like this without having to cut glass. I wonder if you could use a glass chimney from a kerosene lantern mounted on a base that has vents allowing the air to enter at an angle so as to encourage the whirling motion?
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Dave.
Kevin sent us a link to a very interesting video that was shot at Burning Man. It shows fire whirls and dust devils that, according to the Reno-Gazette Journal, appeared “as the Catacomb of Veils art installation [was] set on fire Friday, Sept. 2, 2016”. We can’t embed it, but you can check it out at the RGJ. The dust devils formed downwind of the intense fire, consistently and repeatedly. They form, move with the wind, dissipate, and then are replaced.
That piqued our interest so we looked around on YouTube to see if there were any more, and there’s a boat load of them. They have been occurring for years at Burning Man. Check them out HERE.
The image below is a screenshot from the video that follows it.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kevin.
This video shot by Big Rock Farms in Valleyford, Washington at the Yale Road Fire is an example of how a large fire whirl can very quickly spread a fire in flashy fuels.
KHQ.com described the action (you might hear a four-letter word or two):
Jay Cronk is driving a tractor through a field, attempting to lay a fire line with flames just feet away, when suddenly, the fire takes over, forcing Cronk to race away before the fire reaches the combine and the fuel tank.
Melanie Steele, Brandon Cronk and Dean Walker are the ones you hear behind the camera shouting, “Pull away! Pull away!” as they sit anxiously in another vehicle on a nearby road.
Someone also says:
You see why you don’t want to get in front of that?
The Yale Road Fire 12 miles south of Spokane forced dozens of residents to evacuate and destroyed 10 homes. As of August 25 it had burned approximately 5,791 acres. Along with the 341-acre Wellesley Fire it was part of the Spokane Complex.
We wrote more about fire whirls and fire tornadoes on August 14.