Firestorms are caused by a wildfire, or multiple wildfires in the same area. The heat from a wildfire can create its own wind system which can lead to strange weather effects.
Wildfires can be started from many sources, such as a lightening strike, downed power lines, an unattended campfire and sometimes even arson.
Firestorms form for two main reasons:
- Hot air rises.
- Nature does not like a vacuum, or empty space.
That means empty spaces will not stay empty for long. It all starts because heat is constantly and quickly rising from the fire. As all this heat and air moves upwards, it leaves behind some empty space. Air from all around the fire rushes in to fill that gap. That movement of air creates a powerful wind called an updraft.
If the fire is big enough, it will form a "fire storm cloud." These can produce lightning, which could set off even more fires. They also generate stronger winds, which fan the fire, making it hotter and helping it spread.
Scientists are now studying fire weather, to better understand how to control wildfires once they begin.