'Fire tornado' hit Huntington Lake, with some roots still burning at more than 1,500 degrees

By Bryant-Jon Anteola, The Fresno Bee on

Published in Weather News

The Upper Bear Extension is considered the hardest hit area of Huntington Lake.

"We were able to visualize almost all areas, however, in the northernmost portion of Upper Line, it was unsafe for even us to enter," Donnelly said.

A drone was used to fly over the five cabins destroyed and capture images.

No losses were reported regarding cabins near Grouse Creek, according to Donnelly.

But "almost every" boat trailer seen in the burned areas suffered significant damage.

"We have taken many pictures and video recordings showing the devastation and are working on a plan to make them available to you," Donnelly wrote in his post. "Because of the large number and the size of the files, it may take a few days to determine the best way to share those images."

The good news


Despite the devastation to the area, Donnelly said, most of Huntington Lake did not burn thanks to backfires set by firefighters in other areas to steer the fire's intensity elsewhere.

The U.S. Forest service defines a backfire as "a fire set along the inner edge of a fireline to consume the fuel in the path of a wildfire and/or change the direction of force of the fire's convection column."

Dozer lines, which are fire lines constructed by the front blade of a dozer to remove flammable plant material down to bare soil, also helped the fire move downhill east of Billy Creek, where most of the destruction occurred, the chief added.

"If winds remain calm, the fire at Huntington may be contained next week ... praying and hoping!" Donnelly concluded.

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