One of the toughest professions on earth is firefighting, and those individuals who fight brush and forest fires in the wild have to be exceptionally brave when they’re battling blazes in particularly adverse conditions.
One natural phenomenon that those who fight wildfires must occasionally deal with is as fascinating as it is frightening — a “firenado,” also known as a fire tornado.
Firenadoes are not like a typical tornado produced by severe weather systems, but rather a unique result of gusts of super-heated air rushing through a wildfire at a particular angle that creates a spinning vortex that picks up and swirls around the flames, hot embers and other pieces of debris, according to Fox News.
A firenado recently sprang up while a crew was battling a wildfire in British Columbia, Canada. The firenado reportedly reached upwards of 200 feet in the air and actually sucked one of the crew’s firehoses into the vortex, melting and rendering it useless.
And it was all caught on video and posted to social media. Caution: Some profanity.
View this post on Instagram
Fire tornado destroyed our line. It threw burning logs across our guard for 45 minutes and pulled our hose 100 plus ft in the air before melting it. That’s definitely a first. #firenado #startthepump #wildfire Note: It got over 200ft tall but the smoke was too think to see it clearly on video. Sorry for the profanity.
The video was posted to Instagram by a firefighter named M.C. Shidlowsky, who wrote, “Fire tornado destroyed our line. It threw burning logs across our guard for 45 minutes and pulled our hose 100 plus ft in the air before melting it. That’s definitely a first.”
She added, “Note: It got over 200ft tall but the smoke was too think to see it clearly on video. Sorry for the profanity.”
In all honesty, the brief utterance of a profanity — at least in this instance — would be excused by the vast majority of people, as the incident that compelled the use of a profane word in absolute amazement was rather extraordinary.
In the video, no less than three of the firefighters on the crew struggled in an ultimately failed attempt to retrieve their hose from the powerful suction of the spinning vortex of fire.
Hilariously, one of the firefighters was later seen futilely throwing a rock at the still spinning firenado after the hose had been melted, an apt display of how little humanity can sometimes do in the face of nature’s sheer force and unrelenting destructive power.
According to the CBC, the firefighter who shot and posted the video of the firenado on Aug. 18 was Mary Schidlowsky, who was part of the crew attempting to stop a spreading wildfire near Chutanli Lake in the area southwest of Vanderhoof, B.C.
Forrest Tower, a wildfire information officer in B.C., said of the firenado, “It’s like a dust devil or a fire whirl — it sucks in the debris and that’s what makes it a fire tornado.”
“They do happen, but they are very rare,” he told the CBC. “It’s kind of cool she was able to capture one on video.”
As cool as this video is and as fascinating as it is to watch the incredible dance of the flames spinning around in a vortex, it is nevertheless also somewhat frightening to witness, particularly in light of how close the firefighters were to the dangerous phenomenon.
Next time you see a story about crews battling wildfires in some remote area, keep this story in mind and spare a prayerful thought for the men and women who risk nature’s worst in order to protect and save our communities from nature’s fiery wrath.
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