Photo Credit: Sierra Fire Watch
Pilots Witness Tree Branches Flying Over Yosemite Wildfire
The fire at Yosemite National Park started on July 7th, near the Washburn Trail in the National Park Mariposa Grove area. As of today, the Washburn Fires has burned nearly 4,000 acres. Firefighters are working around the clock to contain the fire and preserve the over 500 sequoias- including the 3,000-year-old Grizzly Giant. A special “ground-based” sprinkler system was installed to increase the humidity around the sequoias to protect them. While the park crew is working to save trees from the ground up, firefighters are tackling the fires from above. Pilots have confirmed dangerous flying tree branches from the fire
Here’s what we know-
Twitter user @Rob_on_sisukas posted some of the radio chatter overheard from firefighting crews on Saturday. In it, one firefighting pilot reports that his plane was almost hit by a tree branch that fell from above the plane. This confirmed that the intense wildfire is also sending debris into the skies. In the audio you can hear the pilot sharing that “a branch went right over the top…probably 50 feet above [them], coming down and falling” right in between another plane and his. The pilot says, “If we keep seeing that, we might have to knock it off. I don’t want to take the chance of busting a window on an airplane or hurting an aircraft for this.”
What actions are being taken-
When a fire is burning intensely the rising smoke column has a lot of energy underneath it accelerating the smoke up to the air. As the hot air rises, developing horizontal winds at the ground level and fresh oxygen intense the fire. Wild Fire Today explains, that “the horizontal and then the vertical movement of air can sometimes transport unexpectedly large objects up into the sky. Large columns may rotate as they rise and, in extreme cases, can become a fire tornado.”
The National Park Service shares that The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also issued a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) for the area surrounding the fire.