While fire officials were able to reduce the reported size of the Hog Fire near Susanville from 12,000 to 8,000 acres on Tuesday morning, photos and videos of the flames overnight tell a story of wild night for firefighters battling the flames.
Firefighters, photojournalists and nearby residents were able to capture views of the fire that had built a smoke plume so large that it developed its own weather system. Reports of lightning, thunderstorms and firenadoes were prevalent from people on the front lines, and the photos show a wildfire that burned at extreme heat.
Around 8 pm on Monday evening, an atmospheric scientist specializing in wildfire plumes named Neil Lareau tweeted that the smoke over the Hog Fire had turned purocumulonimbus, meaning that it could develop its own weather. The National Weather Service confirmed lightning detected in the plume:
Here are some of the photos and videos that illustrate the dangerous fire in Lassen County:
The #HogFire was extremely erratic for a brief moment when a #pyrocumulonimbus ash plume enabled it to create its own weather – lightning, thunder, and rain! A #firewhirl appeared as it jumped across highway 36 near #Susanville, CA. (Photos copyright Josh Edelson/AFP) pic.twitter.com/PSF38RBBq9— Josh Edelson (@JoshEdelson) July 21, 2020
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Flames rip through trees as the Hog Fire burns near Susanville, California, on Monday, July 20. The fire exploded to more than 6,000 acres, generating thunder and lightning. The Lassen County Sheriff's office issued a mandatory evacuation order for the area. 📷 Josh Edelson, @afpphoto #hogfire #wildfire #california