As the blaze expands and poses a threat to famous desert Joshua trees, firefighters battling a sizable whirl-spawning wildfire in California and southern Nevada are dealing with difficult circumstances.
As of Tuesday morning, the York Fire, which is already California’s biggest fire of the year, had consumed more than 80,000 acres. It started on Friday in the Mojave National Preserve in California’s New York Mountains, and by Sunday it had spread into Nevada.
According to officials, firefighters have been fighting the blaze in the face of erratic wind patterns and intense temperatures. In addition, they have been attempting to avoid the burrows of desert tortoises, which are federally designated as an endangered species.
Extreme weather has fanned the fire, one of several that are raging throughout the nation in sweltering temperatures, making it more dangerous and challenging to put out, according to fire authorities on Monday night.
Flames on the Wind
Tuesday morning saw a 23% containment rate for the York Fire. The Mojave National Preserve said on Sunday that the fire has created “fire whirls,” which are a vortex of flames and smoke that develops when tremendous heat and turbulent winds. A spinning vortex rising from a fire and bringing smoke, debris, and flame to the upper atmosphere is sometimes referred to as a “fire tornado” as cool air rushes to replace the fire-heated air as it climbs.
According to Mojave National Preserve officials, some locations saw flames that were 20 feet high. The Mojave Desert’s branching, thorny Joshua trees, which may survive for more than 150 years, are also in danger from the fire.
According to Laura Cunningham, the Western Watersheds Project’s California director, “it will take a lifetime to get those mature Joshua trees back,” CNN station KVVU said. Some plants can survive a fire, and if the flames are not too intense, they will reseed or sprout new growth. Cunningham declared, This is fairly catastrophic.
According to fire authorities on Inciweb, a clearinghouse for US fire information, the Mojave National Preserve has seen an increase in fire frequency over the past ten years as a result of a combination of rainy winters and rising levels of exotic grasses.