A California Wildfire Whirled Into a 'Fire Tornado'

Aon's Impact Forecasting explained, "The July 2018 fires in California follow what was the costliest year ever recorded for the insurance industry with the wildfire peril in 2017".

Western Lake County had its advisory upgraded to a mandatory evacuation for the area west of Lucerne at Bartlett Springs Road and Highway 20, south of the fire, east of the fire, north of Clear Lake including the communities of Blue Lakes, Upper Lake, Nice, Lakeport, Witter Springs, Bachelor Valley, Scotts Valley and Saratoga Springs, according to a Mendocino National Forest incident update.

"Wawona, Mariposa Grove, Glacier Point, Yosemite Valley, Crane Flat, Big Oak Flat, and Hetch Hetchy are closed due to the Ferguson Fire", the National Park Service said in a statement on its website.

Its size overtook the deadly Carr Fire, about 100 miles (160 km) to the northeast, which is among 18 significant wildfires burning across California and 106 nationwide.

The weather service issued warnings for critical fire weather conditions into Saturday, saying a series of dry low-pressure systems passing through the region would bring afternoon wind gusts. The forecast included extremely low humidity levels that leave vegetation ready to burn.

The two blazes, known together as the Mendocino Complex fires, are in their sixth day. Combined containment was 30 percent early Friday.

A fire whirl spawned by the Carr Fire carried wind speeds equivalent to an EF-3 tornado, the National Weather Service said on Thursday.

A firefighter walks around a swimming pool sprayed by phos-chek fire retardant after an air tanker made a pass while fighting a wildfire near Lakeport, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.

Dykema said the whirl uprooted trees and tore roofs from home.

According to the latest report from Cal Fire, the most destructive blaze, the Carr fire, has grown to just below 132,000 acres, while containment is at 39 percent.

Some evacuations were lifted Friday in an area near Redding, where armies of firefighters and fleets of aircraft have been battling an enormous blaze about 100 miles south of the OR line.

The report says the death of the 10-year veteran highlights the need for better risk assessment, communication and supervision.

The insurance and reinsurance industry loss from the Carr wildfire in Shasta County, California, is anticipated to at least approach and possibly surpass $1 billion, as the destruction continues with now more than 1,550 structures completely destroyed and another 258 damaged by the fire.

  • Jon Douglas