As authorities sifted the rubble from the fire that burned more than 1,000 residences in Shasta County, they were startled by what they encountered.A soaring transmission tower was tipped over. Tiles were torn off the roofs of homes. Massive trees were uprooted.
Vehicles were moved. In one spot, a fence post was bent around a tree, with the bark on one side sheared off.
The NWS & @CAL_FIRE Serious Accident Review Team (SART) are conducting a storm damage survey regarding the large fire whirl that occurred Thursday evening in Redding. Preliminary indicators placed max wind speeds achieved by the fire whirl in excess of 143 mph. #cawx #CarrFire pic.twitter.com/3iRX90lhLJ
— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) August 2, 2018
This was not typical wildfire damage. Rather, it was strong evidence of a giant, powerful spinning vortex that accompanied the Carr fire on July 26. The tornado-like condition, lasting an hour and a half and fueled by extreme heat and intensely dry brush as California heats up to record levels, was captured in dramatic videos that have come to symbolize the destructive power of what is now California’s sixth-most destructive fire.
It may take years before scientists come to a consensus on what to exactly call this vortex — a fire whirl, as named by the National Weather Service, or a fire tornado. Whatever it’s called, it’s exceptionally rare to see a well-documented fire-fueled vortex leap out of a wildfire and enter a populated area with such size, power and duration.
Read the full story on LATimes.com.
— Active NorCal (@ActiveNorCal) July 28, 2018
#CarrFire vortex may have been strongest tornado-like feature in California history: "Trees appeared to be levitating…branches & sheet-metal roofs seemed to orbit the column…uprooted objects launched into the air ignited mid-flight." #CAwx #CAfirehttps://t.co/jFdhHryT7J pic.twitter.com/7rg26tHm3Y
— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) August 3, 2018