Footage of a violent fire tornado ripping through a suburban street captured last year is picking up a stream of activity on Reddit, so we decided to investigate the causes of such a phenomenon.

This particular fire in Carlsbad, California killed one person and created a chaotic vortex of vibrant red fire that whooshed into the air. The effect of which was not unlike something out of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings:

Much of the buzz on Reddit has circled around what the hell causes a fire like this, and luckily, LiveScience explains the concept quite succinctly: “A fire tornado isn’t really a tornado at all. A true tornado is formed when three key elements collide: warm, moist air close to the ground; atmospheric instability, a condition that promotes the vertical movement of air; and clashing air fronts that act to propel moist air upward.”

All of those horrifying elements can rear themselves quite commonly, too. Apparently, “tornado fire” like this is a pretty frequent occurrence wherever there are heavy winds.


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