The Wildfire Tearing Through Northern California Created An Insane-Looking "Fire Tornado" – See The Footage

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Jeremy Berke

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The Carr Fire tearing through Northern California is so powerful that it's creating its own weather patterns — and it's producing what some scientists are calling a "fire tornado."  

The fire is what's known as a "plume-dominated" blaze. That's when the fire's column of smoke and ash is so large and hot it can control the path of the blaze and even create local wind and temperature differences, reports The Los Angeles Times


Plume-dominated blazes complicate firefighter's task of battling the fire because they "cause a lot more erratic behavior," US Forest Service meteorologist Tom Rolinski told The Los Angeles Times. 

While the fire's movements may resemble 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 behavior, told Axios that "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 fire tornado:


And in this video, posted by NBC, you can see a time lapse of the fire approaching Redding:


Here's a view of the fire tornado from the sky:


The explosive blaze reached the city of Redding on Thursday night. As of Tuesday, the fire has engulfed over 100,000 acres and is 23% contained, according to Cal Fire, California's fire agency.


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 died on Friday morning, bringing the total death toll to six by Monday.  

Follow Business Insider's coverage of the Carr Fire here.

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