Millard-Sawtooth Fire Clouds
October 23, 2006
On July 14, 2006, two major Southern California wildfires combined; the Millard Fire, burning eastward on the slopes of Mt. San Gorgonio (11,490 ft or 3,502 m), and the Sawtooth Fire, burning westward from the high Mojave Desert. My hiking party happened to reach the top of San Jacinto Peak, some 20 miles (32 km) south of the fires, just as they “blew up.” The enhanced release of thermal energy from the now conjoined fires caused intense updrafts, which rose to create vivid cumulus towers in the otherwise clear afternoon air. This photo was taken with a Canon PowerShot S400 camera and shows two frames digitally stitched to form the panoramic view.