Sometimes that’s what it feels like, confronting another fire season in California. But last week, network news videographer Tim Walton found himself literally in that position, while covering the Jesusita Fire near Santa Barbara.
Walton spends much of his time chasing the state’s most threatening wildfires, shooting video for outlets like NBC Nightly News.
On Wednesday (5/6) he was shooting a “fully involved” home, when he was visited by a dangerous and awe-inspiring presence. In an email, he writes:
“I was filming the house when it felt like someone was standing next to me. I panned the camera over and this “fire devil” was spinning around outside the burning house. It came out a window for a few seconds and went right back where it came from in the house (of course “it” is just gases that were sucked out of the burning house by the wind and ignited by the heat). The vortex stays as long as the wind.
BTW this fire started on the same date as the Summit Fire did last year, I observed the same type of fire behavior we saw early last season. I think we are in for a very interesting year. “
Fire devils are also referred to as “fire tornadoes” or “fire whirls.” Walton’s remarkable collection of photos from California wildfires is posted at his Flickr site. The photo of this “devil” is actually a still frame from some of his HD video: