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Can Scientists Predict Fire Tornadoes?

As the plane began its descent into Medford, we dropped into the blanket of smoke that covered southwestern Oregon and northern California. It was late July 2018, and several major fires were burning in the region. I was en route to join a Cal Fire (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) team investigating a fatal incident that had taken place two days earlier. What the group leader told me over the phone had sent chills up my spine: “A firefighter has been killed in a fire tornado. His vehicle was thrown hundreds of feet across the ground.”

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Modified: Nov 25, 2019