Terrifying "fire tornado" spurts out of California wildfire

Over 2,600 firefighters are battling wildfires across Southern California

Sarah Gray
May 17, 2014 2:30AM (UTC)

Though the Poinsettia fire in Carlsbad, California has been contained, many other wildfires are still raging across Southern California.

It is a misconception that Southern California is season-less and stuck at an idyllic 75 and sunny. (Believe me, I lived there for 24 years.) California seasons are just rather unconventional: May grey, June gloom and fire season. This year fire season hit the southland two months early, accompanied by stiflingly high temperatures.


More than 2,600 firefighters are currently battling fires across the state, according to the Los Angeles Times, many of them concentrated in San Diego. In four days, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) has responded to over 120 fires in the state.

In San Diego, 10 fires burned more than 10,000 acres. The largest of those fires is next to U.S. Marine Base, Camp Pendleton. Another fire, in San Marcos, is only 10 percent contained and is threatening 13,000 homes, who were issued evacuation notices, according to the LA Times.

Two fires, fortunately were mostly contained by the end of Friday. The Bernardo fire, which was located southwest of Rancho Bernardo, was 90 percent contained, and the Poinsettia fire in Carlsbad is 85 percent controlled. The Poinsettia fire destroyed eight homes, an 18-unit apartment building, and three other structures. It also damaged another apartment building, and two more homes.


In San Marcos firefighters faced a "firenado": A tornado-like column, twisting and spurting fire. A video of the fire tornado is below:

California is facing one of the worst droughts in the 14  year history of drought monitoring. The entire state is in the top three levels of draughts: "severe, extreme and exceptional, 23.31 percent, 51.92 percent and 24.77 percent, respectively," according to PBS News. The hot, dry conditions have caused water shortages and created an excess of dry brush and fires.


Mark Moede, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service told the Los Angeles Times how odd these temperatures are during this time of the year in Orange County, Cal.

“This is very unusual for the middle of May in Santa Ana,” Moede told the LA Times. “Usually we have a marine layer, the typical May grey.”


h/t Los Angeles Times, PBS News

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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