Creating Your Personal Firestorm

As I write this article, I’m looking out the window at a massive plume of smoke obscuring sunlight. Thousands of acres of woodlands are currently on fire at the Fort Moore US Army installation just south of my house. This cloud doesn’t come from an uncontrolled brush fire; instead, it is an annual occurrence to try to prevent wildfires from getting out of control in the dry summer months of South Georgia.

I’ve been around these controlled burns on military installations for almost 40 years. I am much more comfortable around these intentional massive fires. Mike Norris has decades of experience around brush fires, as well. But very few people will ever experience the oxygen being sucked from their lungs like Mike experienced in Southern California brush fires.

Fewer will ever experience the intense heat that can melt a fire engine or witness the prycumloniumbus clouds similar to those created by the bombing of Hiroshima.

Mike learned some lessons by surviving a firestorm during one of the worst wildfires in American history. The anatomy of the firestorm and the lessons that Mike learned can help anyone survive the firestorms of life.


Every uncontrolled wildfire starts as a simple flame. Maybe it was from a camper who left a campsite without completely extinguishing the fire. Perhaps it was a simple cigarette thrown out the window of a vehicle on a dry dirt road. No matter how small, if left unchecked, the simple mistakes of life can become consuming fires that will destroy you. No one can tell precisely how much of your life a simple lousy habit will consume if left unchecked.

Some fires in life are not self-inflicted. A few of the worst wildfires in our nation’s history were started by lightning, which created the spark that consumed millions of acres of land. Sometimes, just being in a situation that is out of your control can produce the flames that start destroying all of your life’s circumstances.

No one enjoys going through the fires of difficulty. However, there is a significant difference between a wildfire and a firestorm. When the flames burn uncontrollably, that fire can stack on itself. At this point, A wildfire turns into a firestorm when it starts to generate its weather patterns. Put out the flames of bad habits and mistakes while you still can. If not, you might cross over to the point of wildfire or firestorm-like consequences in your life.


Fires require fuel and oxygen to burn. The most intense wildfires are going to suck all of the oxygen out of the surrounding area. Everyone has struggled with a challenge or a difficulty in the past that has started to suck the energy, or oxygen, out of other areas of their life.

Wildfires can evolve into firestorms when that fire stacks on top of itself. At this point, all the oxygen in the surrounding area is pulled toward the fire area. Because the intense heat of the fire rises, it starts to suck all of the surrounding atmosphere away from the environment and pull it into the fire.

Mike experienced this firsthand when he was sitting in a massive fire engine that was being picked up off of the ground by the amount of force the firestorm created on the environment around him.

Don’t play games with your vices and bad habits. Deal with these like your life depends on it. Countless people are currently living in the vortex of full-blown addiction and crisis. Virtually every addict I have ever heard wishes they could go back and change the vortex of destruction when that habit was still a tiny spark in their life.

Fire devil

Not all firestorms will create a tornado-like phenomenon. However, it is common to see fire whirls or fire devils inside a firestorm. These tornado-like winds spiral and spin on themselves, pulling flames from the ground into the air. I think it’s an entirely appropriate name to refer to these phenomena as fire devils.

Vices, bad habits, and mistakes can torment you for years. Mike experienced a life change that quenched the firestorms of his personal life after he met Jesus Christ personally. This former California Fire Service Captain eventually became a pastor to help others going through the firestorms of their life.

I use the controlled burning of training areas on Fort Moore as a reminder of what can happen in my own life if I ignore the little sparks of vice. Just like a mortician doing an autopsy on a corpse, we can all learn from the anatomy of a firestorm. The only way to defeat the fire devils and vortexes of destruction in our lives is to put the tiny sparks of habits and vices before they become full-blown wildfires.  

Listen to my recent interview with Mike to hear his story of survival.

Further reading

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