North Texas

Fire Vortex in Parker County Wildfire: What Causes It?

Several grass fires burned parts of North Texas Monday. A combination of low humidity, dormant vegetation and strong winds were to blame for the fires.

Texas Sky Ranger captured the leading edge of one of the fires, which included a fire vortex that resembled a tornado of fire.

This vortex is caused by rapidly rising air that has been super-heated by the fire. As the air rises, it draws the flames briefly higher.

The rotation of the flames is a function of the rising air combined with gusty winds.

The whole thing lasts only a few seconds. Other than looking like a tornado of fire, the fire vortex shares very little in common with actual tornadoes.

A massive grass fire in Parker County forced the closure of Interstates 20 and 30 and the evacuation of two schools while lifting a plume of smoke into the air that was visible more than 60 miles away.
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