Whirling ‘fire devil’ spotted as California bush blaze rages (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
Astonishing footage of the blaze – which has now been burning for four days – shows fire devils, also known as a fire tornado, being whipped up by strong winds in certain parts of the county.
According to the US Bureau of Land Management, the whirl of flames “may occur when intense rising heat and turbulent wind conditions combine to form whirling eddies of air.”
While containment lines are being manned by personnel from the Santa Barbara City Fire Department, the fire has spread to around 7,648 acres and is still not under control.
#SherpaFire has been updated to 7,648 acres with 45% containment.— Santa Barbara County (@countyofsb) June 18, 2016
Authorities are also warning that “gusty sundowner winds”and “high temperatures” from Sunday through Tuesday could make matters worse.
Firefighters have been battling the blaze since Wednesday and have deployed light aircraft to dump plane loads of water on fire threatened areas.
Evacuation orders remain in place for a number of areas, including Las Flores Canyon, Refugio Canyon, and El Capitan State Beach.
Officials from the county executive office have issued a statement specially advising vulnerable people that they must be prepared to be evacuated “at any time.”
“Residents who live in West Goleta in areas adjacent to current Evacuation Warning zones with medical, physical and developmental disabilities or other special needs are encouraged to formulate an emergency evacuation plan to assure readiness to evacuate,” the statement reads.