PRODUCED BY KNOWABLE MAGAZINE WITH HUNNIMEDIA

In a fire whirl, rising hot air twists flames into a towering pillar. Although fire whirls in wildlands are normally small, fire whirls can grow large and destructive, forming into a burning tornado, as in the case of the 2018 Carr fire in California. In this video, engineer Michael Gollner of University of Maryland, College Park, explains the characteristics of fire whirls, his lab’s investigation of their behavior and their surprising potential to help clean up oil spills.

Learn more: Firenadoes and drifting embers: The secrets of extreme wildfires