Caught on camera: Incredible fire tornado seen during Calif. blaze

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 5:14 PM EDT
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TENNANT, Calif. (Gray News) - As several wildfires continue to burn across the state of California, firefighters are not only having to deal with the heat and drought conditions, but other rare phenomena as well, such as fire tornadoes.

The U.S. Forest Service shared video Thursday of the fire tornado, also called a fire whirl, taken last week in the Tennant Fire, which continues to burn in northern California.

Forestry officials define a fire whirl as a “spinning vortex column of ascending hot air and gases rising from a fire and carrying aloft smoke, debris and flame.” They can range in size from less than a foot to more than 500 feet in diameter, and large fire whirls can be as intense as a small tornado.

Last week’s fire whirl was so intense, its rotation was detected on radar by the National Weather Service.

The Tennant Fire is one of a number still burning in California. The Los Angeles Times reports, as of Thursday morning, the fire has consumed 10,580 acres and is 81% contained.

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