The deadly Carr Fire burned so hot in dry and windy conditions that it birthed a record-breaking tornado of flame last month, which resulted in the death of a fire dozer operator and several burn injuries to the Cal Fire crews battling the blaze.
On Wednesday, Cal Fire released three videos of the "fire whirl" that struck on July 26 in Shasta County, and outlined how dangerous the weather conditions were leading up to the death of 37-year-old Jeremiah "Jeremy" Stoke -- one of three who died battling the Carr Fire and one of six firefighters killed in California this summer wildfire season.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Stoke was a longtime veteran of the Redding Fire Department, and is survived by his wife and two children.
"His sacrifice will resonate forever,” the Redding Fire Department wrote in a Facebook post.
Cal Fire described this unusual natural phenomena, also referred to as a fire tornado or "firenado," as a massive, rotating fire plume that roughly 1,000 feet in diameter at its base. Winds at the base of the fire tornado reached speeds in the range of up to 165 mph -- considered tornado strength -- and it wreaked havoc by damaging large oak trees and ripping off roofs. Peak gas temperatures, Cal Fire reported, likely exceeded 2,700 degrees.
The Carr Fire, which started three days earlier along Highway 299 and Carr Powerhouse Road in Whiskeytown, Calif., spread through Old Shasta, Keswick and into the city of Redding, Calif.
As of Thursday, the fire had burned 214,000 acres, destroyed nearly 1,100 structures including almost 200 homes and was 71 percent contained. The cause of the blaze, Cal Fire has already determined, was the mechanical failure of a car.
Cal Fire also broke down some of the unusual weather conditions when the "firenado" broke out about 5:30 p.m. Those include:
-- The fire transitioned from fuel-dominated fire to wind-driven fire.
-- The day in question was a record hot day. The Redding, Calif. airport registered 113 degrees.
-- Wind gusts as high as 21 miles were recorded.
-- The northern Sacramento Valley had been "plagued" by abnormally dry conditions since last fall, Cal Fire reported.
On the day in question, National Weather Service meteorologist Duane Dykema said that wind in the "fire whirl" zone rivaled some of the most destructive Midwest tornados.
The whirl measured a 3 on the five-level Enhanced Fujita scale, which scientists use to classify the strength of tornados, he said. California has not recorded a tornado of that strength since 1978.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.