The Carr Fire's rotating smoke plume acted as a chimney, venting heat and smoke away from the blaze, and sucking in air from surrounding areas. Plume-dominated fires, Lareau told Axios, occur in settings with relatively light winds but plenty of instability in the atmosphere, and their behavior can be erratic.
What's so rare, though, is to have a large part of the plume spinning like a tornado one might see in Oklahoma, creating damaging winds on its periphery, and rendering firefighting efforts futile.
1.) Lareau said when the rotating part of the smoke plume intensified, the top of the smoke plume suddenly ballooned from 18,000 feet high to 38,000 feet, a feat that might not have been possible otherwise.
2.) This growth sucked more air into the fire, and indicates it was burning hotter.
A key area of inquiry is how the fire's exhaust plume began rotating in the first place, at around 6:50 p.m. local time on July 27. By 7:45 p.m., the core of the vortex had stretched vertically all the way to 15,000 feet, a phenomena normally seen in intense tornadoes.
Monday, July 30, 2018
The Carr Fire continues to amaze: