Dramatic footage shows 'fire tornado' in St. Albert

Dramatic new video shows the shocking size of a massive 'fire tornado' in St. Albert, Alta., last week that forced a firefighter to jump into a river to escape the flames.

Blaze on a river bank forced a firefighter into the water when the heat became dangerous

Massive 'fire tornado' caught on camera

6 years ago
Duration 0:44
Last week a giant 'fire tornado' formed in St. Albert. Diane Logan was able to capture this video while firefighters fled from the funneled black smoke and ash.

Dramatic new video shows the shocking size of a massive 'fire tornado' in St. Albert, Alta., last week that forced a firefighter to jump into a river to escape the flames. 

Posted by the St. Albert fire department on Twitter Saturday night, the video shows heavy black smoke from a brush fire billowing into a funnel towards the sky, as firefighters run from the flames behind it. 

The fire was burning on April 14 near St. Albert's Big Lake, a section of the Sturgeon River northwest of Edmonton. It was sparked by a campfire that got out of hand.

Shocking video from the St. Albert fire department shows just how dangerous a brush fire became last week. (Supplied)

Wind and dry grass made the fire so challenging to control that firefighter Vincent Pashko was forced to jump into the river to escape the heat.

"We're sitting, waiting for the conditions to change, and a windstorm started up from behind," Pashko told CBC. "The little bit of brush that was behind us lit on fire and ... created a windmill, almost like a tornado."

The winds stoked the hot ash behind him, and while flames weren't close to him, the heat alone was dangerous. 

Pashko heard his co-workers scream for him to look out. 

"I turned around and saw the big storm of ash coming towards me," Pashko said. "I could feel the heat coming up over my head, and I ran to Big Lake and dropped into the water to cool myself off."

He escaped safely, but Pashko said it was the most dangerous situation he has come across in his nine years as a firefighter. 

"I was really lucky. It's just one of those things. I was in a safe zone but you just never know when the conditions are going to change." 

Vincent Pashko had to take a dive into the water to escape the extreme heat brought on by the wind and coals of the wild fire. (CBC)


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?