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Hotshot crew members deploy shelters during fire whirl

Posted at 2:01 PM, Jul 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-04 12:27:15-04

Hotshot crew members were forced to deploy their shelters during a fire whirl in Whiteriver. 

According to officials, on June 28 six members of the Navajo Interagency Hotshot Crew were entrapped by a large fire whirl. Heat, woody debris and ash were flying around the firefighters, which forced them to seek shelter. 

For 15 minutes, the crew members communicated with each other while under their shelters, and they were also able to communicate with outside personnel. Resources were called in to help the trapped members. 

The crew had previously been assigned to work, for several days, along an uncontained fire line. The fire behavior increased in the span of two hours, officials said. 

A fire whirl is a "a fire whirl is a spinning vortex column of ascending hot air and gases rising from a fire and carrying aloft smoke, debris, and flame. Fire whirls may range in size from less than one foot to over 500 feet in diameter and have the intensity of a small tornado," according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group Terminology Glossary.