Originally Posted by JMT
These wildfires are crazy unpredictable. Keep in mind the entire state is dry as a bone, and the entire landscape can ignite in a heartbeat.
A fire big enough to drop 19 specialists into is a big, uncontrolled blaze. The wind doesn't so much "change in direction" as completely shift, and can go from 0-60 in no time flat. There's no way to prepare, and their fire blankets apparently weren't enough for the inferno that erupted.
I live in the area, and we can be sitting outside on a calm day, only to have the wind storm through at 30+ mph for 20-30 minutes, Then right back to calm.
I was out there in April and I remember thinking with how dry it was and how windy it got that a fire would spread in no time. So sad for the victims and their families.