At the base camp of the Powerhouse fire Sunday night, firefighters ate a late meal and tried to rest before another long day on the fire line.
Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Danny Novak, a 29-year-veteran, had been out at the fire since 8 p.m. Saturday night and said the winds and heat from the flames were intense.
“It just looked like what you would imagine hell would look like,” said Novak, after finishing a dinner of chicken and noodles.
Novak described how the embers swirled around his crews, flames lapped at their feet and the extreme heat whipped up small “fire tornadoes” that roared overhead. “It was just like a jet engine,” he said.
The crews faced hot, dry conditions and unpredictable winds throughout Sunday. The winds died down considerably when evening fell but were still present.
“The winds are just shifting constantly,” he said as another gust rose through the base camp. “With the erratic fire behavior you have to be on your toes,” he said.
Fire officials said they expected lower winds and higher humidity for the early part of Monday, when they hoped to continue trying to contain the blaze. The fire had burned through more than 22,000 acres and was just 20% contained as of Sunday night.