Dramatic ‘fire whirl’ spotted near Northern California and Nevada border
GARDNERVILLE, Nevada - A dramatic fire whirl was caught on camera near the California and Nevada state line, where the Tamarack Fire continues to burn and grow.
The video, recorded by the Yocha Dehe Fire Department crew members on July 21, shows a fire whirl — also commonly known as a fire devil — rotating in the air.
Fire whirls typically start as a whirl of wind, often visible by smoke and ash, and occur when intense hot air and gases rise to form the rotating and tornado-like column.
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"In the first video, you can see a fire whirl capable of spreading fire very quickly over a large area," wrote the fire department on social media. "We are thankful for the hard work of these crews as they face harsh and intense conditions. Our firefighters are doing well and are currently resting before they return to face the flames again shortly."
According to officials, firefighters have worked to contain the fire, as the blaze crossed state lines from Northern California into Nevada earlier this week and continues to burn in both states.
In California, the Tamarack Fire has now burned more than 91 square miles of forest land.
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Officials said the fire was initially sparked by a lightning strike in the Mokelumne Wilderness in Alpine County, California, on July 4 and was only 4 percent contained as of July 23.
The fire has destroyed at least 10 buildings and forced the evacuation of more than 2,400 homes. That includes about 1,300 that were ordered to be evacuated for the first time Thursday.
The Incident Information System said Friday that the fire continues to advance as crews have been establishing an indirect fireline as a means to protect structures along the highway.
Pat Seekins, operations section chief for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team that was called in to manage the fire, said Friday his team was shifting significant resources to its eastern flank along the state line. More than 1,300 firefighters were battling the overall fire, and more resources were on their way.
"We had a really active day yesterday. It was pretty severe," he said. "It’s a very significant spot fire, and it’s going to take a lot of work. That will be a very high priority for us today."
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Meanwhile, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners in Nevada declared a state of emergency and set up evacuation sites at a senior center and the Topaz Estates community center.
Gov. Gavin Newsom's office announced Thursday evening that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection acquired 12 additional firefighting aircraft, nine of which were immediately dispatched to fires. Cal Fire now has more than 60 airplanes and helicopters.
Thirteen new large fires were reported Thursday, bringing the national total to 83 large fires and complexes that have burned 1,366,587 acres. Almost 22,000 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents across the country, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Storyful and the Associated Press contributed to this story.