EXTREME WEATHER: "Firenado" Spins Up As Large Wildfire Blazes In Cape Town, South Africa!

A couple stands on the beach as they look at the fire, rear, at Houtbay on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. 
© AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam


March 10, 2015 – SOUTH AFRICA
– A large wildfire burning in and around the South African city of Cape Town continued to rage for a fourth day on Wednesday, forcing officials to evacuate some 500 people.

Conditions were even powerful enough to spark a “firenado.” According to weather.com digital meteorologist Jon Erdman, a firenado is a rapidly spinning vortex that forms when air superheated by an intense wildfire rises rapidly, consolidating low-level spin from winds converging into the fire.

The inferno destroyed three homes and left five more damaged overnight as the sky glowed orange around Table Mountain National Park, according to an emergency spokesperson.

Those who were evacuated spent the night with family or friends, or they were lodged in a nearby community center. Some of the evacuees were allowed to return to their homes Wednesday afternoon, Cape Town disaster risk management spokesperson Charlotte Powell said.

WATCH: Fire tornadoes in Tokai Forest, Cape Town.

YouTube video: Published on 3 Mar 2015. Tornadoes start at about 01:20. Best footage after 03:00. Fire fighting helicopters water bombing the head of the fire behind Zwaanswyk / Steenberg Wine Estate, viewed from Orpen Road, Tokai Forest.

The fire was still not under control, but firefighters had enough resources to manage the burn, said another spokesman Theo Layne. No fatalities or new injuries had been reported, he said.

About 150 firefighters are working 24-hour shifts in hot summer temperatures, Layne said. Residents were hopeful that predicted rain would end the blaze, but Layne said the short-lived rain showers were not enough to quell the fire.

“We had some rain but it was not enough to change the situation,” he said. The South African Weather Service said Cape Town’s temperature reached a high of 29 degrees Celsius (about 84 degrees Fahrenheit).

The fire has retreated somewhat, and has been contained to the Tokai Forest and the Clovelly neighborhood, he said. Powell said firefighters were also focusing on the Cape Point and Constantia Nek areas. A number of roads in the southern peninsula remain closed, the South African Press Association reported.

The wildfire started on Sunday and was briefly brought under control, but a bigger fire started early on Monday morning and has continued.  – The Weather Channel.

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