A video of a fire vortex in British Columbia, Canada, posted to Instagram on Sunday is inciting fear and awe. The clip shows wildland firefighter M.C. Schidlowsky trying to fight against mother nature, desperately trying to grasp what is left of the firehose that’s being sucked into who-knows-what.
“Fire tornado destroyed our line,” Schidlowsky wrote in the caption. “It threw burning logs across our guard for 45 minutes and pulled our hose 100-plus [feet] in the air before melting it. That’s definitely a first.” (She also apologized for profanity in the video.)
As of the time of writing, the clip has generated more than 51,000 views and 250 comments.
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Fire tornado (fire devil) 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.
“It’s a classic fire whirl,” Michael Gollner, a fire scientist at the University of Maryland, told Mashable. “It’s very common for smaller whirls to occur in fires. They’re more akin to dust devils.”
Gollner said there had to be a lot of momentum to pull the heavy firehouse off the ground. Gollner speculates there that the winds exceeded 100 mph, which is pretty powerful (if not quite as powerful as the fire in California’s Shasta and Trinity counties in August that had wind speeds up to 143 mph).
So what might be a potential cause for these crazy, devilish winds? You guessed it: climate change. Dried-out land is a recipe for disaster as it can enhance fire conditions, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Gollner said these fire whirls are exactly how they look: “dangerous” and “unpredictable.” That didn’t stop the firefighters from bravely responding to the situation.
For Schidlowsky, it appeared to be just another day on the job. Her Instagram shows plenty of other wildfire battles.
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