- Videos show the Carr Fire producing a “fire tornado” as it ripped through the town of Redding, California.
- The blaze is so hot it’s creating its own weather patterns.
- See below for the footage.
The fire is what is known as a plume-dominated blaze. That’s when the fire’s column of smoke and ash is so large and hot that it can control the path of the blaze and even create local wind and temperature differences, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Plume-dominated blazes complicate firefighters’ task of battling the fire because they “cause a lot more erratic behaviour,” a US Forest Service meteorologist named Tom Rolinski told the Los Angeles Times. These types of fires even create a specific cloud formation, called a pyrocumulus cloud.
While the fire’s movements may resemble those of a tornado, some scientists say it’s actually a different mechanism that causes the rotation. Three-digit temperatures and concentrated heat – rather than wind – create an updraft that causes smoke, ash, and embers to funnel around, the Bay Area News Group reports.
That depends on which scientist you ask, however. Neil Lareau, a physicist at the University of Nevada at Reno who studies fire behaviour, told the news website Axios that he was “relatively comfortable calling this a tornado.”
“I’m sure some people will take issue with it,” he added.
ABC10, a local ABC affiliate, first posted a video on Twitter of the so-called fire tornado:
— ABC10 (@ABC10) July 27, 2018
And in this video, posted by NBC, you can see a time lapse of the fire approaching Redding:
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) July 27, 2018
Here’s a view of the fire tornado from the sky:
— Active NorCal (@ActiveNorCal) July 28, 2018
So far, the Carr Fire has killed one bulldozer operator who was contracted to help snuff the blaze and has caused burn injuries to both civilians and firefighters. Another firefighter diedFriday morning, bringing the total death toll to six by Monday.
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