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The fire 'nado caught on camera wreaking havoc in the Carr Fire near Redding is being compared to an EF-3 tornado, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
Called a “fire whirl”, the NWS described the event as a rotating column of fire induced by intense rising heat and turbulent winds. In addition to the fire damage, the whirls can also cause damage similar to that seen from tornadoes.
The fire whirl that struck near Redding, recorded between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on July 26, registered winds in excess of 143 miles per hour(!), according to the NWS. Some damage reports include downed power lines, uprooted trees, and some tress being completely “de-barked”.
Another viral photo captured in the aftermath of the whirl showed a steel pipe wrapped around a tree trunk.
The Carr Fire is now the seventh most destructive wildfire in California state history. It has burned nearly 126,000 acres of land, or roughly 196 square miles. It has destroyed more than 1,500 structures, 1,058 of which are homes.
Thousands of firefighters have been deployed to battle the blaze, which broke out on July 23, and it is still only 37 percent contained as of August 2. About 40,000 Shasta County residents were evacuated due to the fire. Six people, including two firefighters, have been killed.