A look into "The Jaws of Hell"

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 11:06:39 08/25/16

In Reply to: Berry Fire video posted by Hoot


Thanks for the link. That is incredible video!

I've heard all kinds of war stories from folks who were involved in the fight to save Old Faithful in early September, 1988, including Rick Hutchinson, former park geologist. They spoke of the "firestorm", which consisted of 200-300 foot walls of flame as the southwest winds pushed the flames over the ridge and downhill toward the complex. Rick was on the business end of a fire hose, on the roof of the Old Faithful Inn. There were buses stationed in close proximity to each major structure that was being defended, each with its engine idling and door open, ready for an urgent evacuation of firefighters if necessary. Everyone I have heard from spoke of the overpowering awe they experienced at seeing nature demonstrate how powerless they were to protect those structures. Thankfully,a last minute wind shift by a few precious degrees swept the fire around the complex, so we still have those iconic buildings.

I would call to any viewer's attention the way those trees are oscillating from the force of the cyclonic winds generated by the firestorm in the linked video. If you look closely, those trees are moving in all directions. I would bet that there was a stiff southwest (dominant wind direction in the Northern Rockies in summer and fall) wind blowing the Berry Fire to the northeast, but large wildfires generate tremendous cyclonic winds via the heat-induced convection currents generated. We saw a similar phenomenon in fire-bombed cities, like Dresden and Tokyo during World War II. Very, very scary!


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