Plane over intense Yosemite fire encounters flying tree debris

The Washburn Fire burns in Mariposa Grove

Wildfire activity inside the Washburn Fire burning in Yosemite National Park is reportedly so intense it’s lifting tree debris hundreds of feet into the air, causing at least one near-miss for firefighting aircraft.

Radio traffic from a plane over the blaze Saturday documented the rare phenonemon: “Hey, just want to let you know, a branch went over the top of us,” a pilot radioed into dispatch. “A pretty good size, probably 50 feet above us coming down and fell right between tanker 103 and myself.”

“OK, copy. So like a repeat of yesterday,” the dispatcher reponded.

“That’s exactly what I’m getting that,” the pilot said. “So if we keep seeing that, we might have to knock it off. I don’t want to take a chance of busting a window on an airplane or hurting an aircraft for this.”

Rare; but, not unheard of. Just one more danger you have to watch out for fighting a forest fire.