Wildfires don’t typically burn downhill. They climb upward, their flames drying and igniting the fresh vegetation above. This one was racing downslope, at night, directly at Winkel. Worried, he scrambled uphill for a better view. Near the top, a hot wind struck his chest, and he watched to the northwest as the blaze’s front rolled like barrels in 35-foot-high flames. He had never seen this effect before—few people have. Winkel was witnessing a blowup, an intense and sudden force, second in power to a nuclear explosion, able to boil stream water, melt dirt, and crack boulders. This one would spawn a horrific 45,000-foot furnace of smoke and soot, spin up 400-foot-high fire tornadoes, generate powerful updrafting and downdrafting winds, create lightning high in the plume, and send embers flying almost 25 miles away.