Fire whirl brings critical conditions in Northern California
05 August, 2018, 01:44 | Author: Essie Rivera
This comes as the complex fire grows to a combined 157,250 acres, with at least 41homes destroyed, and 9,200 still threatened.
Much of the destruction was caused by a tornado of flames that the National Weather Servicesaid reached 143 miles per hour (230 kph) on July 26. But given its strength and how it was formed, some are now calling it a "fire tornado". But when two plumes broke through, that created an fast-moving updraft, conditions similar to those of tornado formation.
NWS meteorologist Duane Dykema said the "fire whirl" had an intensity rivaled by some of the most destructive Midwest tornadoes recorded.
On Thursday evening, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for the communities of Spring Valley, Long Valley and High Valley, between Lucerne and Indian Valley Reservoir in Lake County.
"Unstable conditions, shifting winds, steep terrain and dry fuels continue to challenge firefighters", a state fire update warned, noting that 35-mph wind gusts were expected on ridgetops that could whip up the flames.
"This is a particularly risky situation with extremely low humidity and high winds".
Cal Fire said on August 3 that the Ranch Fire, which is burning northeast of Ukiah, had consumed about 115,250 acres since it started on July 27, with firefighters managing to contain about 28 percent of the blaze.
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