Spiraling ‘Ash Devil’ Blows Through Northern California Wildfire

Cierra Bailey
Photographers captured stunning pictures of a swirling “ash devil” barreling through the burning acres of a Northern California Grade Fire.

Infamous California wildfires threaten many homes and lives just about every summer as the state endures an ongoing drought. This year is no different as the northern edge of California near the city of Yreka is currently experiencing a Grade Fire.

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One thing about natural disasters is that strange phenomena can result from them, such as the remarkable “ash devil” smoke tornado that blew through the fire area on Thursday.

Several photographers were able to capture the whirling spiral of smoke and ash; it looks like a real-life version of the animated Tasmanian Devil twister.

"Firewhirls and ash devils are not uncommon in wildfires on unstable days," the National Weather Service said on their Medford, Oregon Facebook page.

"Strong updrafts from the heat of the fire (or even just the blackened ground) are able to turn the horizontal vorticity (spin) into the vertical and give rise to these spinning columns of air. These are signs of vertical wind shear and extreme instability, and they are very dangerous to firefighters."

The difference between a firewhirl and an ash devil is that a firewhirl would be actively blazing, making it much more dangerous to encounter.

Yreka’s fire has burned through about 710 acres since it started, according to Mashable, and is 65 percent contained. While evacuations have been lifted, several surrounding roads are closed.

According to Cal Fire’s incident report, the fire destroyed a total of eight structures, including four residences.

Many people experience tragedy and lose everything in these unpredictable wildfires, so every little glimpse of beauty counts for something. 

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Banner Photo Credit: Twitter @800fire