Rare Fire Tornado Filmed Over a Lake in Canada

Fire Tornado
The fire tonado over Gun Lake last week.

A super-rare fire tornado, or a fire whirl, was filmed by a member of the British Colombia Wildfire Service in Canada last week.

The astonishing clip was captured during the Downton Lake wildfire near Lillooet on August 17 as intense fires, strong winds, and air mass instability resulted in the formation of a fire tornado.

The B.C. Wildfire Service explains that “strong winds from the southwest” resulted in significant fire growth and intensity. A relative humidity value of 14 percent at 04:00, an incredibly rare value at nighttime, contributed to the fire tornado.

The area also had a reduced dew point of 12.2 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 11 degrees Celsius), which is a measure of how much moisture is in the air. That is a significant drop, some 60 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) lower than the day before the cold front came in.

“With this combination of conditions and fire behavior, fire intensity was more extreme during this overnight period, reaching intensities that hadn’t been seen even during the day,” says the Wildfire Service.

“Another important factor in the formation of whirls is adequate vorticity, a measure of the atmosphere’s tendency to spin or rotate. Complex terrain, downslope winds, and the passing cold front provided the necessary conditions for the formation of this fire whirl over Gun Lake.”

Fire whirls are very rare. They are vertically oriented, intensely rotating columns of gas and flame.

“These unique conditions and extreme fire behavior are not experienced on the majority of fires in B.C.,” adds the fire service.


The Downton Lake wildfire has caused “significant” structure loss in the region, reports CTV News.

So far, at least, everyone has escaped with their lives. The same can’t be said across the Atlantic in Greece where wildfires have killed at least 20 and dozens of firefighters are injured.

There have also been catastrophic fires in Maui. Earlier this week, PetaPixel reported on a wedding photographer urging brides not to ask for refunds from wedding photographers on the island after it was left devastated.