If the past two summers have shown us anything, it’s that fighting wildfires in British Columbia has gotten downright difficult.
In 2017, British Columbia reported that nearly three million acres burned, costing $568 million to fight and displacing approximately 65,000 people — the province’s worst wildfire season on record. Final statistics for this past summer will not be available until later this fall, but CTV reported that as of late August, 9,450 square kilometers (more than 2.3 million acres) burned, making it No. 2 all time.
And now, it seems, Canadian wildfires are just toying with firefighters.
On Sunday, Canadian firefighter and paramedic M.C. Schidlowsky posted video to her Instagram account showing a fire tornado near Vanderhoof, B.C., sucking a crew’s fire hose nearly 200 feet into the air, despite the crew’s best efforts to wrestle it back in a tug of war with the twister.
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The fire tornado finally released the hose, but not before melting it.
Fire tornado, you say — is that kinda like a sharknado? Sort of — they’re certainly dangerous, but these are actually real, as Schidlowsky’s video shows.
“Fire tornado destroyed our line,” she wrote in the Instagram post. “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. #firenado #startthepump #wildfire”
The phenomenon that spins a funnel of flames, ash and embers into the sky is well known to firefighters and also goes by the names “fire whirl” and “fire devil.,” They mimic meteorological whirlwinds or dust devils, and are actually more closely closer related to those phenomenon than to actual tornadoes.
Fire tornadoes can become 300 to 400 feet tall and 20 to 50 feet wide, reach 2,000 degrees inside the column, whip winds 100 to 300 mph and last several minutes to an hour.
Fire tornadoes also can be deadly, such as one generated earlier this summer by the Carr Fire in Northern California that killed a firefighter.