A fire tornado with 143 mph winds hit Redding during Carr Fire

The winds were so strong on July 26 in Redding, California, they uprooted trees, ripped roofs off houses and...

Posted: Aug 3, 2018 3:35 PM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 3:35 PM

The winds were so strong on July 26 in Redding, California, they uprooted trees, ripped roofs off houses and downed power lines, authorities said.

The gusts swirled in the flames of the fast-moving Carr Fire -- a blaze so hot and large it created its own weather.

Accidents, disasters and safety

California

California wildfires

Continents and regions

Fires

Natural disasters

North America

Southwestern United States

The Americas

Tornadoes (weather)

United States

Weather

Wildfires

Severe weather

After conducting a damage survey, the National Weather Service and Cal Fire said that between 7:30 and 8 p.m. on July 26, "winds in excess of 143 mph" ripped through the area.

Winds that high are equivalent to an EF-3 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale.

The firestorm destroyed the Ed Bledsoe's home, killing his wife and two great-grandchildren.

"The tornado was hovering over the house," Amanda Woodley, Bledsoe's granddaughter, told CNN. "It was just a tornado fire over the house."

Bledsoe had left the house earlier to go to the doctor's office, and was on the phone with family members as the flames closed in. They believed they were safe from the fire and knew nothing of the approaching hellscape that was like nothing any of them had ever seen.

Victims of the Carr Fire

He said his son drove toward the flames in the hope of rescuing his family members. "My son said the grass wasn't on fire, the trees were getting sucked up in the air and burning," Bledsoe told CNN. "He said when he opened his doors, the leaves hit him like somebody was slapping him. He said it was sucking his breath out, and he got back in his car and tried to get out."

Bledsoe was on the phone with his wife and great-grandchildren until the very end.

"It sucked the roof off the house and the walls fell out and the roof went right down on them," he said.

The Carr Fire, now the sixth most destructive blaze in California history, has consumed 126,000 acres and killed six people.

Dr. Craig Clements of San Jose State University's Fire Weather Research Laboratory said there have been few observed firenadoes of this magnitude before. He says the conditions have to be perfect for something like this to occur.

Firenadoes are formed from a fire's intense heat, causing the air to heat up quickly and rise rapidly. That, combined with surface winds that are obviously quite strong, creates a vortex similar to a dust devil.

Clements says aside from the potentially damaging winds, a firenado like this can even pull fire in different directions.

At 3:27 p.m. that day, the National Weather service sent out a statement noting that "radar indicates strong rotation located within the intense fire activity of the Carr Fire." They warned of possible wind gusts up to 50 mph.

"The wind went from zero wind to 40 to 60 mph winds within 15 minutes," Justin Sanchez told CNN. He said his house was consumed by the firenado. "(There was) a loud disturbing deep growling noise as it spun around in a spiral. It seemed the outside was moving around so slowly, with two-foot sized pieces of debris floating in it."

Sanchez says when he and his family were about a mile and a half from his home, they looked back and could see their neighborhood consumed by it.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844594

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1160612006
Mobile741651379
Madison53255732
Shelby38313368
Baldwin38061589
Tuscaloosa35996641
Montgomery34473781
Lee25541263
Calhoun22582518
Morgan22441406
Etowah20009517
Marshall18771316
Houston17723425
St. Clair16863358
Limestone16123218
Cullman16032303
Elmore15902294
Lauderdale14945306
Talladega14186299
DeKalb12957269
Walker12011380
Blount10700192
Autauga10512157
Jackson10151194
Coffee9412192
Colbert9325208
Dale9013191
Tallapoosa7248201
Russell707465
Chilton7015170
Escambia6951143
Covington6926195
Franklin6337108
Chambers5778142
Marion5400130
Dallas5283209
Pike5114109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4777110
Geneva4640136
Bibb434094
Barbour369180
Butler3433100
Marengo342393
Monroe336666
Randolph334067
Pickens333188
Fayette329885
Henry320566
Hale317989
Cherokee316963
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254360
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184647
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139041
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 59°
Columbus
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 59°
Oxford
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 57°
Starkville
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 61°
High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for our Saturday. This will keep us filled with plenty of sunshine in our weather forecast for our Saturday.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather