This ‘Firenado’ In a California Wildfire Looks Like Hell on Earth

An unusual phenomenon that accompanies deadly wildfires.

Jun 19 2016, 9:30pm

Screen capture from Global News video

When fire and whirling columns of air combine in nature they can produce an actual tornado made of fire. A fire tornado—"firenado"—is such a fearsome sight the Japanese gave it a name that better indicates the kind of awe-filled fear experienced upon seeing one in nature: "dragon twist." A massive quake that struck Tokyo in the early 1920s saw thousands killed in a massive fire tornado spawned by burning rubble.

A firenado recently captured on video in California wasn't deadly but it was an exceptional example of the breed.

This flaming whirlwind was recorded during the Sherpa wildfire, which NBC reports has been burning in Santa Barbara County since the middle of the week. The Sherpa fire had blackened nearly 8,000 acres by Saturday but was close to being under control.

That's small comfort to the region, however, as the National Weather Service has declared Southern California under an "extreme fire danger," with extremely dry conditions and temperatures rising into the triple digits. Add in windy conditions and there could be several more firenadoes twisting across the burning brush very soon.