REDDING (KPIX 5) — Recently released video from Cal Fire shows the most intense tornado ever in California history that trapped and killed a firefighter in Redding last month.

37-year-old Jeremiah “Jeremy” Stoke was a longtime Redding Fire Department veteran. According to Cal fire, on July 26th, he was driving his truck in northwest Redding and helping evacuate residents from the Carr Fire when he got into trouble.

Stoke radioed out a mayday call, saying he was getting burned over. Then his transmissions abruptly stopped.

The fire tornado exploded in the middle of what was already a gigantic and devastating wildfire.

The fire vortex was so unusual, Cal Fire investigators are still struggling to understand it.

While it was not the first documented fire tornado in California – a similar event happened at Coffey Park last October, for instance – but it was certainly the most powerful.

The actual vortex is visible in the video released by Cal Fire.

Even for fire researchers like Craig Clements, the director at the SJSU Fire Weather Research Lab, who had seen fire whirls before, it was an extraordinary event.

“You can clearly see the winds going like this and the circulations right here,” said Clements. “It’s an incredible sight.”

The video released by Cal Fire clearly shows the Carr Fire winds and flames moving in opposite directions forming a massive vortex.

The base of the fire tornado was 1,000 feet — the size of three football fields — with winds ranging from 136 to 165 mph, some of the worst in California history.

Peak temperatures inside the vortex rose as high as 2,700 degrees.

The aftermath left behind by the vortex was captured the next day by KPIX cameras.

Clements stressed the tornadoes themselves are not caused by climate change, though climate change may be contributing to more dry brush and fire fuel resulting in more extreme fire conditions.

Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman notes those conditions are partially a man-made phenomenon.

“There are things we can do. We can go in and mitigate the problem,” said Schapelhouman. “The predictability of what we could say was the norm before is completely out the window.”

He says there’s a need for more off-season controlled burns and vegetation management to help prevent extreme fire events that are becoming more common.

But as fire seasons worsen, Clements says technology is improving and may someday be able to help save lives, detecting fire tornadoes in its earliest stages.

“You can’t predict it, but you could potentially monitor fires with remote-sensing technology,” said Clements.

The SJSU Fire Weather Research Lab has lidar that — similar to how Doppler radar that can track rain and severe weather – can track smoke particles and detect fire vortex formation.

Clements says he can see a future where this technology — which is research grade right now — could be on every fire engine in the field.

Comments (36)
  1. Liberals just have to inject their BS agenda of made up “climate change” at every turn.

    Just stick to the facts.

    Then these idiot libs wonder why they are considered fake news.

  2. Adrian Vance says:

    “Climate Change/Global Warming” has nothing to do with the fires. They are caused by the lack of logging thanks to the Sierra Club tree huggers. See “CO2 Is Innocent” at Clip-copy the short paper, have it authenticated by a physical science teacher, do the demo-experiment and see for yourself that CO2 in concentrations less than 10,000 ppm, where it is now at 400 ppm, do not heat the atmosphere and over 10,000 ppm cool the atmosphere. I prove what I say. Adrian Vance

  3. Walt Pryor says:

    For decades the super rich in Hollywood have financed Environmentalist who sued anyone trying to manage the forest to prevent fires.
    This is another result of Democrat Socialist feel-good politics. This started forty years ago. Spotted Owl, shutting down forest management, and preventing fires!
    But it is too late for those who have lost tens of thousands of their home and lives. Just like Venezuela, it is too late to fix the catastrophic results of Democrat Socialist ideas and actions.
    Save your family, never vote for a Democrat. Democrats kill children and spread sexual diseases.
    Democrats do not care about you only about your vote.

  4. For more news updates from California, is a quality news source.

  5. Dan Klein says:

    Ask the senior level forestry employees and they’ll tell you they spend half their time either in court or preparing for court or dealing with lawsuits – things they didn’t sign up for. Why do environmental groups have the standing to sue the federal government on our behalf? I wish congress would fix whatever law gave the environmental wackos the ability to control our forestry policy. The feds to lots of stuff that we don’t like, but we have no ability to sue anyone. All our suits would get tossed out immediately.

  6. James Harvey says:

    throw the jews in it

    1. Septua Jes says:

      Hear, hear!

    2. Bob Suyak says:

      Throw a..holes in it, you should be the first to go.

  7. Amy Kensey Baldi says:

    This folks, is an example of geo engineering. There are pictures where cars with their tires are melted and on the side of the picture are trees that are not burned. Tell me now, is this normal?

  8. Gil Vietor says:

    Climate change… Good lord, you stopped letting people clear brush, you stopped logging, you stopped common sense, large quantities of people moved into the areas, and you think it is Climate Change?

    Good Lord…

  9. John Johnston says:

    This is what you get when you vote for Democrats and tree-huggers.

  10. Arnold Spencer says:

    The reporter outside the fire station……………….is that fake grass behind her?

  11. Con Nod says:

    Always the default “climate change” narrative. The only “change” needed is to rid the world of wack job environmentalists who know zero about mitigating fire dangers.

  12. David Coker says:

    Will we ever know the real cause of these fires? Aluminum engine blocks melting. Appliances inside the homes melting. Houses burned down to the slab with none of the structure remaining is beyond strange. Even the brick and stone gone. Is this all a part of Agenda 2030 and are these fires the result of Direct Energy Weapons. The same areas designated as part of the Agenda 2030 plan just happen to be the same areas destroyed by these fires.

  13. A lot of benefits can be had from LIDAR stations, least of them being visibility meters, pollution detectors, wide fire detectors, and identifying car accidents. It also aides in predicting sudden changes in the weather and can enhance any weather station.

  14. Lynn Wood says:

    Our military developed firestorm creation by patterned bombing of large cities. See the book, Slaughter House Five for what we did in Dresden. We then applied what we had learned to the bombing of Japan where we were obliterating tens of square miles of city a night by intentionally setting fires in a pattern which would cause a firestorm. These have been seen before, the huge fire in Yellowstone in the 1980’s? turned into a firestorm.
    We need to reduce the fuel available to reduce the occurrence of these in forest lands.

  15. Jack Foobar says:

    Every State has trees and brush, but they clear and log. You don’t see this happening to them, and they are nowhere near the ocean. The only climate that’s changed is that California is now full of morons/leftists getting everyone killed.

  16. David Lamb says:

    The only man-made aspect about these fires is the lack of environmental management of the underbrush and dead biomass in the forests. This additional dry, dead fuel makes these fires spread with great speed, resulting in the intense winds that can lead to the fire tornados. It isn’t global warming, it is leftist environmentalism run amok, throwing common sense to the wind for the sake of “saving” the planet, while destroying lives.

  17. William R. Smith says:

    the government you get you deserve….. stop voting for evil and you will get better government. Personally, I hope Calf. splits into several states after Congress de-funds it and the decent people of the Republic rejoin the Union. All the Mexicans and the communists in Sacramento need to be expelled. And anyone who is not a US citizen as well.