MOJAVE DESERT (CBSLA) — The temperatures have cooled and the skies are clear and blue, but the memory of this summer’s firestorms are still fresh in the minds of firefighters and National Park Service officials in the Mojave National Preserve.
The Mojave National Preserve posted images Tuesday of a stunning “firenado” that erupted as firefighters battled the Dome Fire. The rare wildfire phenomenon developed on the second day of the firefight, which began on Aug. 15.
The “firenado” developed on due to extreme fire conditions and gusty winds creating its own weather, National Park Service officials from the Mojave National Preserve said.
“A convection column rose, then capped out when it hit a certain altitude and was stopped by the atmosphere,” according to the National Park Service. “When the convection column then collapsed, it created downdrafts and fire whirls (sometimes called ‘firenadoes’).”
The Dome Fire was sparked by lightning and burned more than 43,000 acres, according to Inciweb. There were no injuries reported, but the fire is believed to have killed as many as 1.3 million Joshua trees, which don’t grow anywhere else in the world. The National Park Service says about 25% of the contiguous Joshua tree forest burned in the Dome Fire.
The Mojave National Preserve is bordered to the north by the 15 Freeway and bumps up against the Nevada state border.