Rare 'fire tornado' springs from blazes spreading rapidly across Northern California

The rare event formed from the Loyalton Fire which has burned more than 20,000 acres north of Lake Tahoe, California since Friday 

Timelapse footage shows wildfire in Loyalton, California

A rare "firenado" sprung from a California forest fire this weekend and lead the National Weather Service (NWS) to warn residents of "extremely dangerous fire behaviour".

Since Friday, the Loyalton fire has burned more than 20,000 acres north of Lake Tahoe. As of Sunday morning, zero per cent of the forest fire has been contained, according to Tahoe National Forest.

Besides the fire rapidly spreading across Northern California, a rare fire tornado developed briefly on Saturday.

The National Weather Service Office (NWS) issued a tornado warning for the pyrocumulonimbus cloud that formed from the forest fire, warning it showed "extremely dangerous fire behaviour".

A pyrocumulonimbus cloud is created above areas of intense rising heat, like a fire or volcano. A fire tornado, also known as a "firenado", then brings in the smoke, dirt, and fire particles from the nearby fire into its cloud.

Firenados can be dangerous depending on how large they become. In 2018, during the Carr fire in northwestern California, a fire tornado claimed at least two lives.

"Firenadoes are an extreme weather phenomenon that can occur with rotating fire columns," the NWS Reno tweeted. "As extreme as this behaviour is, the #CarrFire had an extreme example of this."

It may have been the first time the NWS has issued a tornado warning for a fire tornado, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The blaze formed along Highway 398 and eventually jumped over the road, forcing firefighters to provide protection to drivers in the area.

The cause of the Loyalton fire is under investigation. California has experienced a record-breaking heat wave this past week with temperatures reaching the triple digits. Low humidity in the air has also made for drier conditions, causing problems for firefighters as they fight the blaze.

A red flag warning was issued for the San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of Central California through Sunday morning due to critical fire conditions.

Fire officials are also battling wildfires in California, Colorado, and Oregon, as the West Coast experiences high temperatures. One fire in the Los Angeles area has raced across more than 17,000 acres so far and was only 12 per cent contained.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in