REDDING, Calif. (AP) — A rare fire tornado that raged during this summer's deadly Carr Fire in Northern California was created by a combination of scorching weather, erratic winds and an ice-topped cloud that towered miles into the atmosphere, according to a new study.
The churning funnel of smoke and flame killed a firefighter as it exploded in what already was a vast and devastating wildfire in July on the edge of Redding, about 250 miles north of San Francisco.
The wildfire claimed eight lives and destroyed more than 1,000 homes before it was contained on Aug. 30.
The study in the Geophysical Research Letters journal used satellite and radar data to suggest how a monstrous "firenado" the size of three football fields developed on July 26.
It said the firenado was formed in much the same way as a regular tornado, which differs from the "fire whirls" that are formed only by heat from a wildfire.
The only other documented case of such a "firenado" was during the 2003 Canberra fires in Australia, according to the study.