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The fire tornado occured during a controlled burn in a Colorado prairie, but how did the controlled burn turn into a fire tornado?
Cindy Souders of the US Fish and Wildlife Service told National Geographic that the, "weather conditions were within prescribed limits, and there were light and variable winds. At 3:30 there was an unpredicted wind shift to the north, which pushed the fire south to a small corner." When the heat from the fire and the change in winds occured, a fire whirl resulted.