FACT CHECK: Does This Video Show A Fire Tornado During The 2020 California Wildfires?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A video shared on Facebook purportedly shows a fire tornado occurring amid the current California wildfires.

Verdict: False

The video actually shows a 2018 fire tornado in Canada.

Fact Check:

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning after a wildfire in Lassen County, California spawned a fire tornado on Aug. 15, the Weather Channel reported. Fire tornadoes occur when intense heat from a wildfire rises and surrounding air quickly replaces it, causing a spinning column of air, according to USA Today.

The video in the Aug. 20 Facebook post appears to show firefighters trying to put out a fire tornado while the wind picks up their hose. The video’s caption identifies it as a scene in California and includes a link to a YouTube video of the same footage, also claiming to be from the ongoing California wildfires.

However, Check Your Fact found the video in a September 2018 article on Canada’s publicly-owned news service, CBC News. The video was filmed by firefighter Mary Schidlowsky during a wildfire near Vanderhoof, British Columbia, on Aug. 18,  2018, according to the article. Schidlowsky shared the video on her Instagram account Sept. 15, 2018.

“Fire tornado (fire devil) destroyed our line. It threw burning logs across our guard for 45 minutes and pulled our hose 100 plus ft in the air before melting it. That’s definitely a first,” Schidlowsky wrote on Instagram. “Note: It got over 200ft tall but the smoke was too think (sic) to see it clearly on video.” (RELATED: Does This Image Show The 2020 California Wildfires From Above The Clouds?)

CalFire, California’s fire fighting agency, has reported more than 700 wildfires covering over 1.3 million acres of land since Aug. 15, according to The Washington Post.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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