Harrowing new footage released by California’s firefighting agency Cal Fire reveals the massive fire tornado that led to the death of a firefighter on July 26.
Per the report, the tornado “was a large rotating fire plume that was roughly 1,000 feet in diameter at its base” and managed to reach a height of 40,000 feet.
In late July, we covered news of a fire tornado in the area on the evening of July 26. It’s unclear whether the fire tornado in the report is the same as the one that garnered media attention at the time, according to Cal Fire.
“Observations from witnesses and other evidence suggest that either several fire tornados occurred at different locations and times, or one fire tornado formed and then periodically weakened and strengthened causing several separate damage areas,” the report says.
Fire tornados can happen when extreme heat spins up from the ground. As Mashable’s Mark Kaufman explained at the time:
“The fire tornados could be kicked off by whipping winds interacting with unique terrain and topography, or a spin enabled by the heat itself.”
“Either way, if a small whirl is stoked into a towering firenado, it promptly becomes unpredictable. It’s a spinning storm.”
Firefighters captured the disturbing video above from a helicopter, as well as footage taken from a fire engine, and from the Keswick Dam on the Sacramento River.
The Carr Fire continues to ravage parts of Shasta County and Trinity County. It is 77 percent contained, and other fires continue to rage in Northern California and other areas
These fires are spurred on by extreme heat and dryness in the region. While human-caused climate change isn’t necessarily the direct cause of any single weather event, like these fires, it can make extreme weather more likely now and in the future.