extreme fire behavior

Fueling the Fire: Trump Thinks Logging Will Stop the Burning in California. It won't.

“On the left is the Camp Fire in Big Bend, California, and on the right the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California.” - Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and David McNew/Getty Images

“On the left is the Camp Fire in Big Bend, California, and on the right the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California.” - Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and David McNew/Getty Images

One of the most renowned wildland fire experts, Stephen J. Pyne, offers more than his two cents of why the California fires are as extreme as they are…and it is not because California has not removed enough trees.

From the Source:

Where fires are crashing into towns, the real fuel is the built environment. Aerial photos of savaged suburbs tend to show incinerated structures and still-standing trees. The vegetation is adapted to fire; the houses aren’t. Once multiple structures begin to burn, the local fire services are overwhelmed and the fire spreads from building to building. This is the kind of urban conflagration Americans thought they had banished in the early 20th century. It’s like watching measles or polio return. Clearly, the critical reforms must target our houses and towns and revaccinate them against today’s fire threats. The National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise program shows how to harden houses and create defensible space without nuking the scene into asphalt or dirt.

Too often, whether we’re talking about politics or fire management, the discussion ends up in absolutes. We leave the land to nature, we strip it, or we convert it to built landscapes. We have either the wild or the wrecked. In fact, there are lots of options available, and they will work best as cocktails. There is a place for prescribed burning, for prescribed grazing, for prescribed thinning (a kind of woody weeding), for prescribed chipping and masticating by machines, for greenbelting—crafting swathes of low-fuel land use like recreational parks or even golf courses—and, in select sites, for prescribed logging. Most treatments should concentrate where people and high-value assets are at risk—exurbs, suburbs, municipal watersheds. Elsewhere, in wildlands, some kind of managed fire will likely prove the most usable means, and in the West, hybrid practices—half suppression, half prescribed burn—are becoming common.

Brush Fire Threatens Homes in Maui as Hurricane Lane Downgrades to Category 1

“Hurricane Lane, which was just downgraded to a Category 1 storm, is still very dangerous because of the extreme rainfall. But ironically, Maui could use the rain. (Video by Don McCuaig/YouTube)”

“Hurricane Lane, which was just downgraded to a Category 1 storm, is still very dangerous because of the extreme rainfall. But ironically, Maui could use the rain. (Video by Don McCuaig/YouTube)”

When natural hazards collide - Hurricane Lane has brought the winds and fueled fires in West Maui. We are wishing for everyone’s safety there and across the state.

From the Source:

Then in the morning hours, a new threat emerged in Maui - brush fires starting in Lahaina and moving up the west side of the island. The winds from the hurricane and dry conditions were fueling these fires.

ABC7 Meteorologist Mike Nicco says as the hurricane comes closer to Maui, those winds will pick up. "A hurricane is coming, the last thing you want is rain because you know there's going to be flooding," Nicco said. "You've already seen the flooding on the Big Island and that's what's coming, but to help out that fire, you could use some rain and so far they haven't seen much."

One woman was treated for burns and some residents in Kaanapali and Lahaina were evacuated, including former Bay Area news photographer Don McCuaig. He lives near the area where the fire is now spreading in Kaanapali Hillside, and shared video of the blaze.

"The fire is literally going horizontally," McCuaig said. "They have evacuated everybody out. Our street is being evacuated."

Lava-Related Brush Fire Claims Four Homes Near Kapoho

"This photo of the western margin of the lava flow at the oceanfront was taken Sunday. The western flow margin did not advance overnight, and remained approximately 0.1 mile from the Pohoiki Boat Ramp at Isaac Hale Beach Park this morning." Credit: USGS

"This photo of the western margin of the lava flow at the oceanfront was taken Sunday. The western flow margin did not advance overnight, and remained approximately 0.1 mile from the Pohoiki Boat Ramp at Isaac Hale Beach Park this morning." Credit: USGS

We are very sorry to hear about the continual loss of homes from the eruption -- this time caused by lava-related brushfires. 

From the Source:

Four houses were destroyed Saturday by a brush fire along Kilauea volcano’s lower East Rift Zone.

The houses were in the Halekamahina Road area off Highway 132 near Kapoho, according to Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for Mayor Harry Kim.

Hawaii County residents with losses as a result of the Kilauea eruptions and earthquakes have through Monday, Aug. 13, to register for disaster assistance with FEMA, which can be done at the DRC, weekdays 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Registration can also be done online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay service may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week.

In Greece, Wildfires Kill Dozens, Driving Some Into the Sea

"People watching a wildfire raging on Monday in Rafina, east of Athens." Credit Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters

"People watching a wildfire raging on Monday in Rafina, east of Athens." Credit Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters

We are devastated to hear the tragic news coming out of Greece this week. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. The stark realities of a warming planet and increasing extreme wildfire conditions are making it all the more imperative for us all to take action now to reduce climate-related risks and impacts worldwide.

From the Source:

Fast-moving wildfires near Athens have killed at least 76 people, officials said on Tuesday, and have forced thousands of tourists and residents to flee in cars and buses, on foot, aboard boats and on makeshift rafts. In desperation, some people plunged into the Aegean waters and tried to swim to safety.

Gale-force winds topping 50 miles an hour have fanned a pair of fires that tore through seaside areas popular with travelers, leaving behind a trail of charred resorts, burned-out cars and smoldering farms, and wrapping the region in a pall of smoke. Officials said that at least 187 people were injured, including 23 children.

The extreme conditions are in line with patterns that scientists attribute to climate change. Heat waves can be linked to climate change in several ways: Increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hold more of the sun’s heat, raising temperatures globally. A hotter climate in turn changes the way air and ocean currents move around the planet, which can further increase temperatures in certain places, like the Mediterranean.

Deadly California Wildfire Could Become Largest in State's History

"Firefighters from the Governors Office of Emergency Services monitor the advance of smoke and flames from the Thomas Fire, Dec. 16, 2017 in Montecito, Calif." Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

"Firefighters from the Governors Office of Emergency Services monitor the advance of smoke and flames from the Thomas Fire, Dec. 16, 2017 in Montecito, Calif." Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

From the Source:

"The Thomas fire, which has killed two and destroyed more than a thousand structures in Southern California, could become the largest wildfire in the state’s history as the monster inferno continues to grow.

The Thomas fire has burned steadily since Dec. 4, and authorities say it could take weeks to fully contain. It has reduced at least 1,026 homes and business to ashes and damaged more than 240 others.

It was 45 percent contained as of Sunday evening as about 8,530 firefighters from about 100 different crews battled the blaze. Officials estimated that firefighters won’t achieve full containment until Jan 7."

Wildfires Rage Out West Amid Scorching Temperatures

"A huge wildfire is seen in Los Angeles, Sept. 1, 2017." Credit: Splash News

"A huge wildfire is seen in Los Angeles, Sept. 1, 2017." Credit: Splash News

78 large wildfires (and many more smaller ones) are currently scorching eight western states that are experiencing extreme temperatures -- all of this while the Atlantic Ocean is experiencing the strongest hurricanes on record and Hawaii is facing another year of extreme droughts. These are not anomalies, but signs of a new age in which the climate is reaching new extremes. We must connect the dots. It's all related.

From the Source:

"The La Tuna fire that began last Friday in Los Angeles has scorched over 7,000 acres across Burbank and Glendale, making it the largest fire in the history of Los Angeles, fire department officials said. Firefighters have contained the flames to 80 percent and are actively investigating the cause.

This summer 7.5 million acres were torched in the U.S. from wildfires, ABC News meteorologists said."

Wildfire Burns Across (Formerly) Icy Greenland

The Sentinel-2 satellite captured a wildfire burning in western Greenland.  Credit:  Pierre Markuse    Flickr   ( CC BY 2.0 )

The Sentinel-2 satellite captured a wildfire burning in western Greenland. Credit: Pierre Markuse Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

It's all connected!

From the Source:

"A series of blazes is burning roughly in the vicinity of Kangerlussuaq, a small town that serves as a basecamp for researchers in the summer to access Greenland’s ice sheet and western glaciers. The largest fire has burned roughly 3,000 acres and sent smoke spiraling a mile into the sky, prompting hunting and hiking closures in the area, according to local news reports."

"The ice has been melting at a quickening pace since 2000, partly due to wildfires in other parts of the world. The uptick in boreal forest fires has kicked up more ash in the atmosphere where prevailing winds have steered it toward the ice sheet.

The dark ash traps more energy from the sun, which has warmed the ice sheet and caused more widespread melting. Soot from massive wildfires in Siberia caused 95 percent of the Greenland ice sheet surface to melt in 2012, a phenomenon that could become a yearly occurrence by 2100 as the planet warms and northern forest fires become more common."

This is How Much of the World is Currently on Fire

"September 2014 Happy Camp Complex Fire in the Klamath National Forest in California." Credit: US Forest Service

"September 2014 Happy Camp Complex Fire in the Klamath National Forest in California." Credit: US Forest Service

These interactive maps and graphics offer a grim look at what we might expect as a new normal with climate change. The world is on fire like never before this year. Hawaii is no exception.

From the Source:

"Here in the United States the Forest Service is reporting that 2017 is shaping up to be a worse than average fire year based on acres of federal, private and state land burned. So far, 5.6 million acres of land has burned this year, or 1.8 million acres more than the ten year average of 3.8 million acres burned by this time."

"Across the border from the United States, fires are also currently scorching Canada’s British Columbia. This is the province’s second worst fire season on record and NASA satellites have identified the conflagration from space."

"On the other side of the globe, if you load up the European Commission’s fire map, it looks like the end of the world, especially in Italy and Romania. So far, an area just slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island has burned. The total is already roughly three times the normal amount of summer wildfires. Back in June, 60 people died over the course of one weekend in Portugal due to wildfires. Thirty people were killed when the fires reached roads on evacuation routes. And as the map makes clear, those fires don’t seem to be abating, in part because of the hotter, drier temperatures."

French Riviera: 12,000 Flee Bushfires as Planes Waterbomb Popular Tourist Coast

"An aerial view shows plumes of smoke on the outskirts of Bormes-les-Mimosas." Credit: Nadine Achoui-Lesage/AP

"An aerial view shows plumes of smoke on the outskirts of Bormes-les-Mimosas." Credit: Nadine Achoui-Lesage/AP

We are wishing for the safety of all those in harm's way in France (as well as Portugal and Italy). 

From the Source:

"Backed by planes dropping water and fire retardant, more than 1,000 firefighters are battling bushfires billowing smoke into the sky over France's southern Cote d'Azur, forcing the evacuation of at least 12,000 people.

The blaze was the latest of several wind-whipped fires ravaging forest and scrubland on the hills and slopes that spill into the Mediterranean Sea.

France's Prime Minister, visiting the area, predicted a grim day ahead.

Large swaths of Mediterranean forest had been left bare and blackened after three days of fires. About 250 trailer homes, a hangar, an atelier and several vehicles were burned in the blazes, but no-one had been injured so far, the prefect of the Var region said."

"In central Portugal on Wednesday, billowing smoke made visibility too poor to use water-dropping aircraft on the region's flaming pine and eucalyptus forests. More than 2,300 firefighters with more than 700 vehicles battled 13 blazes, with flames driven by powerful winds.

In Italy, where wildfires have raged for weeks, firefighters responded to 26 requests for water and fire retardant air crops on Tuesday throughout central and southern Italy, including Calabria, Sicily, Sardinia, Lazio and Puglia.

The Coldiretti agriculture lobby said 50 million bees were destroyed along with their hives in fires on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Coldiretti said another 20 per cent of the bee population is estimated to have become disoriented by all the smoke and died as a result."

Risk of 'Megafires' to Increase as Climate Warms

Scientists, using new imaging technology aboard two NASA satellites, predict that indeed a warming planet will lead to...more 'megafires.' With more and longer drought periods predicted for Hawaii on both the wet and dry sides, our islands will also most likely experience an increase in wildfire occurrence and severity as the climate changes. 

Projected changes in the number of days exceeding the 93rd percentile of the Fire Weather Index (FWI) by the mid 21st century (2041-2070) under a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5). Dark red shading indicates the largest increases, while the pale green hows small decreases. Red triangles and blue dots show recent extreme wildfire events as per previous figure. Source: Bowman et al. (2017)

From the Source:

"Recent research shows that the number of days wildfires are likely to burn each year is increasing as global temperatures rise. And the new study finds that extreme wildfires are likely to become more widespread in future, Bowman says:

'Climate change projections suggest that the geographic footprint of dangerous fire weather is likely to expand globally.'"

"The findings make a compelling case that adds to the mounting evidence on the increasing risk of wildfires, adds Giglio:

'Clearly on the current path we can expect a greater risk of extreme fires in much of the world. The outlook for the western United States is particularly worrying.'

While the publication of this study on the anniversary of Black Tuesday is a 'fortuitous coincidence', says Bowman, it highlights that the combination of cities surrounded by flammable forests and increasing wildfire risk 'will lead to more fire disasters'.

Lightning, Tornadoes and Mice: The Science Behind Bushfires

Flickr.com: Bert Knottenbeld

Even though Australia is miles away from Hawaii, there are many commonalities with how wildfires (or bushfires, as they call it) behave on the continent versus Hawaii. Here’s a great article that explains how bushfires work — see if you can draw the parallels with Hawaii. The main difference? Wildfire is part of a natural cycle in Australian ecosystems, unlike in Hawaii where it is an introduced cycle.

From the Source:

“Peak fire conditions occur when there's a period of significant rainfall that causes plants to grow, followed by a hot spell that dries out this fuel. This means the bushfire seasons vary around Australia.”

“Bushfires typically move in a front — a thin line of burning grass or forest that inches forward as new material catches alight.

Radiant heat from the fire front warms the air ahead, drying out fuel, and causing volatile gases inside wood to escape – thus priming new fuel for the approaching fire.”

“Strong winds can sometimes blow burning embers ahead of the fire front, setting alight new patches of fuel in a process known as "spotting".

These patches of fire can then quickly grow and join up, forming one giant blaze, hundreds of metres or even kilometres wide. Such an event, known as "deep flaming", is more difficult for firefighters to control.

The heat and smoke given off from deep flaming can even create "pyrocumulonimbus" clouds that form over a bushfire.”

“'Different species have different life cycles, and some of their aspects of reproduction and regeneration may be linked to fire,' Professor Bradstock said.

An example of such a plant is the acacia, which requires the heat of a bushfire to crack its seed pods so it can germinate.”

Blue Cut Fire in Southern California Updates and Stories (VIDEOS, PHOTOS)

"Driving along the 138, everything looks scorched." Credit: @Brittny_Mejia

Wildfire season is off to a heavy start in California. 3 large wildfires - Blue Cut, Clayton, and Chimney - have collectively burned over 43,000 acres and destroyed over 200 homes. Many firefighters are claiming they have never seen fire behavior from these fires quite like they have this year. We keep hearing this year after year. The new norm is the abnormal with climate change.

Our thoughts are with all of those who have lost loved ones, homes and valuables through the rash of wildfires burning through California. Big shoutout to the first responders who have put their lives on the line during these harrowing fires.

From the Source:

"Paik said he has lived intermittently in his van over the last two days. When he left his house Tuesday night, he said, he didn't bring anything with him, but returned to his powerless home the next day to get clothes and his passport.

'The firemen worked hard,' he said. 'I had … confidence, maybe overconfidence, so I just brought nothing.'"

"Firefighters use standard guidelines to maneuver amid a fire, he said, prioritizing life safety over property conservation and property conservation over environmental protection. But there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

'It helps the firefighters,' he said, 'but every fire is different.  There’s not a set ‘If this is happening, do this.’ It’s all up to the best judgment of the firefighters.'"

Fort McMurray Fire Photos Show Incredible Power of Historic Wildfire

Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada is facing a major crisis right now: a massive wildfire that has prompted the largest fire evacuation in the province's history. Over 88,000 residents were ordered to evacuate the fire that is even taking out parts of downtown. Our hearts go out to all of those affected - we know how terrifying it must be but the safest bet is to leave and to leave early during times like these.

From the Source:

"According to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, 80 per cent of the houses in the neighbourhood of Beacon Hill were destroyed by the powerful blaze.

Firefighters say they are preparing for a “worse” day Wednesday, anticipating strong winds and dry conditions to feed the already out of control 7,500-hectare-large inferno.

All 105 patients were evacuated from the local Northern Lights hospital within two hours, officials said at a news conference."

Huge Community Effort to Battle Kahikinui Brush Fire

Photo Credit: County of Maui/Ryan Piros

When a community comes together during an emergency, the safety of firefighters and residents is vastly improved. Case and point, the efforts of community members during the 5,300 acre wildfire that threatened homes in Kahikinui, Maui, made suppression efforts much easier for first responders. The fire was an intense one, not only for residents in Kahikinui, but for those in Kihei, too. The smoke was thick as it smothered parts of Kihei, reported Pablo Beimler, who was in Kihei for HWMO work. Unfortunately, HWMO had to cancel a Firewise Community Hazard Assessment with Kula Hawaiian Homelands due to the wildfire, but thankfully no homes or lives were lost in what could have been a catastrophic fire.

From the Source:

Map of Kahikinui Fire. Credit: Maui County GIS

"Before first responders were able to close the roads Monday evening, good Samaritans like Joe Santos sprung into action. "I took my truck and I blocked the road because I was trying to stop anybody from driving into the fire," said Santos, operations manager for Kaupo Ranch."

Shortly after, Maui firefighters were in full force fighting the blaze. Various public and private entities also helped supplying manpower and bulldozers.

The efforts helped save all the homes in the Kahikinui Homesteads.

'The fire got close to the homestead side, a little more on the Ulupalakua area, that's where it was really intense trying to save the houses. The trade winds were bringing the fire close to the homes and that's where the stress level got a little bit crazy,' said Santos.

Taomoto said the Maui Fire Department expresses its gratitude to everyone who helped and continues to help fight the fire."

Conditions Ripe for Explosive Wildfire Season in Southern California

"Jim Kilgore of San Bernardino runs from a ball of flame. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)"

All it takes is one spark. The phrase has gained more and more meaning each year across the globe. From Hawaii to Southern California, a combination of droughts and winds and abnormal weather spurred by El Niño may have a dramatic effect on fire behavior this fall/winter. 

Here's a great article about the enormous effect the Santa Ana winds have on dangerous fire behavior in Southern California (and how it will most likely be worse this year.)

From the Source:

"'That's the scary part of the Santa Anas. They blow from the source into where people live. That wasn't necessarily true 50 years ago. But people more and more are living in what I call 'Santa Ana corridors,' ' said William Patzert, climatologist for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.

While non-Santa Ana fires tend to burn in more remote areas, such as national forests and rugged wild lands, Santa Ana fires descend on more populated areas including along the coast, where higher property values and more residents are at stake, said Yufang Jin, assistant professor at UC Davis' Department of Land, Air and Water Resources and lead author of the study...

Fires in Southern California will only get more intense with climate change, according to the UC study. The study projects that by mid-century, as the region gets hotter and drier, non-Santa Ana fires will increase 77%, and Santa Ana fires by 64%...

Santa Anas also tend to generate more 'firebrands,' or small burning embers that get cast into the air and spark more blazes ahead of the fire, Sapsis said. They tend to start fires that burn nearby homes...

'With these extreme conditions, it literally does just take a spark,' she said. 'If we could take that out of the equation, we're going to be in a much better position.'"

Nude Hot Springs Retreat Burns Down from Wildfire

"Burned out remains of the popular nudist destination, Harbin Hot Springs is seen after the Valley fire roared through the area near Middletown, Calif. on Sept, 14.(Photo: Josh Edelson, AFP/Getty Images)"

A favorite retreat for many in Northern California burned down from the latest Lake County wildfire that also took many homes and a half dozen lives with it. Wildfires can be a major threat to community resources, whether they are heiau, community centers, or clothing-optional spas. Our hearts go out to all of those affected.

From the Source:

"According to the website, the holistic center, which is a non-profit operated by the Heart Consciousness Church, evacuated Saturday afternoon.

A statement on Harbin's website reads: 'Photos and video have circulated online showing the destruction of the main retreat buildings, and the area is unrecognizable. That said, it appears that the historic pools still exist. Beyond that, we cannot confirm specifics or estimate damages until we are allowed to return ourselves.'"

These Photos from the California Wildfires are Apocalyptic

"A playground is surrounded by smoldering rubble in Middletown, California, Sept. 13, 2015." Credit: Josh Edelson/Getty Images

Residents of Middletown and San Andreas have been hit hard by massive wildfires that have destroyed over 400 homes and businesses and taken the lives of a few people. 

It's the kind of news you never want to see, but unfortunately, it's becoming more and more common with the increase in frequency, size and intensity of wildfires all around the U.S. and especially in California. 

These haunting photos offer a harrowing glimpse of the aftermath of the fires. Warning: they will give you chills (and one includes some graphic content).



VIDEO: Okanogan Complex: Washington Wildfire Is Now Largest in State History

Credit: Ruth Fremson/Redux Pictures

Credit: Ruth Fremson/Redux Pictures

Firefighters are traveling from around the world to fight the now largest wildfire in Washington's history (an area larger than New York City). They're using various tactics including prescribed fire and fuelbreak creation to fight the fire that has claimed the lives of three firefighters and injured four. 

One resident explained as she watched flames come closer to her home: "I don't want any firemen dying to save this house. It's not worth anybody's life."

Mahalo to all those firefighters who are putting their lives on the line and working together as a multi-agency, multi-nation effort.

From the Source:

"About 1,250 people are battling the wildfire, Pachota said, adding that help was continuing to "trickle in." About 70 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand have arrived in Boise, Idaho, and are scheduled to receive protective gear before heading out to fight fires burning all over the West."

"We do continue to make progress, but with these fires, the only way to deal with them is like eating an elephant — one bite at a time," Pechota said.


California "Rocky Fire" Threatens Thousands of Homes (VIDEO)

CalFire firefighters walk along Highway 20 as the Rocky Fire burns near Clearlake, Calif. The fire has charred more than 27,000 acres and is currently only 5% contained.  Josh Edelson, AFP/Getty Images

Unprecedented wildfire conditions are making the "Rocky Fire" blaze a difficult one to suppress. 

Many homeowners have been evacuated but others are deciding to stay…here's an important message from a homeowner in Clearlake with "Ready, Set, Go!" language entwined:

"For people who think they are going to stay and defend their property to the end, well, I got news for them: you won't be able to breathe by the time the fire reaches you so there's no point in staying." - Rick Sanders, homeowner.

From the Source:

A massive, fast-moving wildfire has destroyed at least 24 homes and threatens another 6,300 in a drought-stricken area about 100 miles north of San Francisco.

"The grass, the brush, the trees, they are tinder-dry," said CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant. More than 12,000 people had been evacuated from the area around Clearlake, Calif., located about 100 miles north of San Francisco and 100 miles northwest of Sacramento.

Homeowners are doing what they can to prepare but fear they are "one gust of wind away from devastation."

"We are seeing burning conditions that are almost unprecedented." - Paul Lowenthal, Santa Rosa firefighter.

Residents Return to "War Zone" After Wildfire Engulfs Homes (VIDEO)

"PHOTO: A man stands in front of the remains of his fire-destroyed home, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash." Credit - Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

"PHOTO: A man stands in front of the remains of his fire-destroyed home, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash." Credit - Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

Embers can be one of the greatest threats during a wildfire near a community. This Washington fire set homes and businesses ablaze in the heart of the city, a testament to the importance of preparing for wildfire no matter how far you are from the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI). Our hearts go out to those who've lost their homes and businesses - we can't imagine how difficult of a recovery that must be.

From the Source:

"Homeowners forced to evacuate recently because of a rapidly moving wildfire in Washington state returned today to find that the blaze had burned so hot that few of their belongings remained or were even recognizable.

'[It] looks like a war zone,' Diane Reed told ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV. 'I've never seen anything like it ... To just sit back and think, I don't even have a fork or a plate or clothing — just your basic things that we all take for granted. It's just gone.'

Wenatchee, a town with a population of 30,000, suffered a double whammy. As fire ripped through neighborhoods and burning embers ignited several large businesses downtown, nearly half the city was ordered to shelter in place after an industrial fire and ammonia leak released a dangerous smoke plume."