A wildfire that led to the evacuation of nearly 40,000 people in Northern California is creating massive fire tornadoes as emergency crews struggle to contain the flames.
Skip Murphy of Redding, California, posted a video on social media of a heat vortex, or a fire whirl that occurs when intense rising heat and blustery wind conditions combine to form whirling eddies of air.
The vortex sounded and looked a lot like a tornado, according to Murphy.
“No audio, but it sounds like a freight train, punctuated with explosions. Never seen anything like it,” Murphy wrote Friday on a Facebook post that also included a video of the fiery twister.
The Carr Fire is threatening to torch towns and cause millions of dollars of damage before emergency crews can snuff it out.
The fire has already destroyed nearly 500 structures, damaged 75 others and could demolish 5,000 homes and buildings, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesman Scott Kenney told CNN Saturday.
“This fire is making a significant push into the northwest portion of Redding,” Cal Fire incident commander Chief Brett Gouvea said.
“This fire is extremely dangerous and is moving with no regard to what’s [in] its path.”
More than 800 soldiers and airmen are on the ground or en route to help, according to the California National Guard. The Carr Fire — which started Friday, rumbled through Redding, and has already killed two people — doubled in size Saturday to 80,906 acres, almost the size of Philadelphia.
A wildfire that has ripped through parts of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in recent weeks has quickly become California’s largest in recorded history, officials announced Friday.
Wildfires have been an ongoing problem in Northern California over the years.
The Thomas Fire barreled through 273,400 acres of land in December 2017, charring forests and buildings along its path. It became 154 acres larger than the deadly Cedar Fire in San Diego in 2003.
Western wildfires chewed up more than 200,000 acres in Northern California and killed at least 40 people in October 2017 as well.
Similar wildfires scorched Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
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