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Hog Fire In NorCal Grows To 9,400 Acres As Firefighters Contend With Hail, Thunderstorms

SUSANVILLE, Lassen County (CBS SF) – The Hog Fire continued to burn through heavy forest in Northeastern California Wednesday, as firefighters contended with more unusual weather while battling the massive wildfire.

Cal Fire announced early Wednesday morning that the fire has burned 9,420 acres (14.71 square miles) near Susanville in Lassen County and is 9 percent contained. No structures have been damaged, but 170 structures remain threatened and evacuation orders are still in effect. No injuries have been reported.

The fire has damaged an essential fiber optic cable, hampering internet and cellular service in the area. Repairs are underway, Cal Fire said.

"The Hog fire remained active throughout the night and still remains five miles from Susanville. Firefighters continue to take suppressive action and construct containment lines," the agency said in its update. A red flag warning for the area has been extended through Wednesday, with heavy winds and dry lightning expected.

Firefighters continued to encounter wild weather conditions in the area, as thunderstorms and even hail was reported Tuesday.

Photographer Josh Edelson reported that a hail storm dropped dime-sized hail onto the fire itself and that temperatures dropped significantly in a matter of minutes.

A tree stump keeps burning as hail falls directly on the Hog fire near Susanville, California on July 21, 2020. - A thunderstorm cell mixed with a pyrocumulus ash column from the Hog fire, bringing with it erratic winds and lightning before evolving into a hail storm that extinguished a portion of the fire. (JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

A day earlier, crews contended with the fire making its own weather, as a fire tornado was spotted crossing Highway 36 near Susanville.

Hog Fire - Firewhirl / Firenado
A fire whirl shoots into the sky as flames from the Hog fire jump highway 36 about 5 miles from Susanville, California on July 20, 2020. - The fire exploded to more than 6,000 acres and created its own weather, generating lightning, thunder, rain and fire whirls out of a huge pyrocumulonimbus ash plume towering above. The Lassen County Sheriff's office issued a mandatory evacuation order for the area. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Also known as a "firenado" or a "firewhirl," the weather phenomenon has been reported in other major California wildfires, including the Carr Fire that tore through Redding in 2018.

More than 1,300 personnel have been assigned to the Hog Fire, including numerous crews from the Bay Area.

It is unclear what started the fire, which was first reported on Saturday. Officials have not yet determined when the fire would be contained.

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