Loyalton Fire burns tens of thousands of acres northwest of Reno, NV

Fire tornadoes were spotted at the fire Saturday

August 17, 2020  |  6 a.m. PDT

map loyalton fire Reno California wildfire
The red line was the perimeter of the Loyalton Fire at 4:30 p.m. PDT August 16, 2020. The white line was the perimeter at 2:19 a.m. August 16, 2020.

The map above was updated using data from a fixed wing mapping flight over the Loyalton Fire Sunday afternoon at 4:30. It is more accurate than the map below from an earlier flight that was supplemented with the red dots representing heat detected by a satellite. That flight plus data collected later by other means determined the fire had burned 36,295 acres


August 16, 2020  |  7:02 p.m. PDT

map Loyalton Fire California Reno Nevada
The red line was the perimeter of the Loyalton Fire at 2:19 a.m. PDT August 16, 2020. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 2:48 p.m. PDT August 16, 2020.

The Loyalton Fire in northeast California 12 miles northwest of Reno, Nevada started at about 4:30 p.m. August 14 east of Loyalton, California. It burned north and east adjacent to the areas of Beckwourth Pass and Hallelujah Junction. Early Sunday morning a mapping flight calculated it had burned 29,829 acres. That was confirmed later in the day by the Tahoe National Forest.

Sunday afternoon it was pushed to the east and southeast by an 8 to 15 mph wind out of the northwest and was approaching the Nevada border at 2:48 P.M. MDT.

On August 15 meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Reno observed on radar a very rare fire tornado in real time at the Loyalton Fire about 12 miles northwest of the city. They used emergency warning systems to transmit tornado warnings as quickly as possible to firefighters and the general public. It is believed that this is the first time a real time warning for a fire tornado has ever happened, at least in the United States. More information about this very unusual event is at Wildfire Today.

Sunday at 5 p.m. the Lassen County Sheriff’s office issued the following evacuation information:

“LOYALTON FIRE #LoyaltonFire
ROAD CLOSURE AND EVACUATIONS

  • State Route 70 is now open to thru traffic. Please continue to use caution due to first responders working in the area. US 395 is now open without restrictions. Please continue to use caution due to first responders working in the area.
  • A Mandatory Evacuation Order has been lifted for residents from US 395 at Red Rock Road south to US 395 at State Route 70.
  • A Mandatory Evacuation Order has been downgraded to an Evacuation Warning for residents along roads accessed by State Route 70 on the north and south side of State Route 70.
  • A Mandatory Evacuation Order has been downgraded to an Evacuation Warning for residents from the intersection of State Route 49 and 70 east to State Route 70 and US 395. US 395 south to the Sierra County line. This encompasses everything south of State Route 70 and west of US 395.”
Loyalton Fire August 15, 2020 Reno Nevada wildfire
Loyalton Fire August 15, 2020. InciWeb.

NWS tweets fire tornado

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

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