EXTREME temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere have caused devastating fires from Europe to the US, leaving many dead and displaced.

Firefighters battling the deadly, fast-growing Carr Fire in California’s Shasta County have witnesses a fire whirl, often known as a ‘firetornado’ or ‘firenado’.

Footage (watch above) was recently shared by the Peardale Chicago Park Fire Protection District.

“They say it was like a ‘firetornado,’” said Chris Corona, who lives in the area where the fire was burning, CBS News reports.

“People started driving on the curbs, through lawns, everyone was running.”

A firenado, also known as a fire whirl, is a whirlwind brought on by fire made up of flame or ash.

A wildfire that roared with little warning into a Northern California city has also claimed two lives as thousands of people scrambled to escape before the walls of flames descended from forested hills onto their neighborhoods.

Residents who gathered their belongings in haste described a chaotic and congested getaway as the embers blew up to a mile ahead of flames and the fire leaped across the wide Sacramento River and torched subdivisions in Redding, a city of 92,000 about 100 miles south of the Oregon border.

“I’ve never experienced something so terrifying in my life,” said Liz Williams, who loaded up two kids in her car and then found herself locked in bumper-to- bumper traffic with neighbours trying to retreat from Lake Redding Estates. She eventually jumped the curb onto the sidewalk and “booked it.”

“I didn’t know if the fire was just going to jump out behind a bush and grab me and suck me in,” Williams said.

“I wanted out of here.”

The blaze leveled at least 125 homes, leaving neighbourhoods smoldering and 37,000 people under evacuation orders.

Redding police chief Roger Moore was among those who lost their homes, the Los Angeles Times reports. The flames moved so fast that firefighters working in oven-like temperatures and bone-dry conditions had to drop efforts to battle the blaze at one point to help people escape.

The fire, which created at least two flaming tornados that toppled trees, shook firefighting equipment and busted truck windows, took “down everything in its path,” said Scott McLean, a spokesman for Cal Fire, the state agency responsible for fighting wildfires.

Fire officials warned that the blaze would probably burn deeper into urban areas before there was any hope of containing it, though it either changed direction or was stopped before it could burn into the core of the city. The fire was likely to regain strength later in the day when temperatures were forecast to spike around 43 Celsius and winds were expected to kick up.

Lightning and even a lawn mower have sparked devastating fires in the forests that ring the peaks and lakes. The blaze that broke out Monday was caused by a mechanical issue involving a vehicle, officials said.

The fire rapidly expanded Thursday when erratic flames swept through the historic Gold Rush town of Shasta and nearby Keswick, then cast the Sacramento River in an orange glow as they jumped the banks into Redding.

In Greece, which this week suffered the deadliest fires in decades, authorities confirmed autopsies had been carried out on 86 bodies.

A blame game has also broken out over wildfires. Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Mikos Toskas claimed there were “serious” signs of arson.

Others pointed the finger at the government over its poor fire prevention measures while Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he accepted “political responsibility” for the tragedy.

Houses considered permanently unsafe were being sprayed with a red X signs, as structural inspections by housing experts were being carried out in parallel with ongoing house searches by rescue crews looking for more victims. Nikos Karakoukis, head of the Athens Forensics Department, said forensic tests have revealed the remains of three extra people.

“There are parts of bones that are attributed to three people, so the number increases to 86,” Karakoukis said.

It was another indication of the intensity of the fire’s heat, which melted the metal hubcaps of cars as it swept through the pine-forested seaside resorts with winds of up to 100 kilometres per hour.

Germany’s federal criminal police have sent a team of its forensics specialists to help in the process.

Despite the daily rising death toll, Greek government officials have refused to acknowledge criticism, including claims of poor emergency planning ahead of the country’s annual wildfire season.

On Friday, however, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sought to defuse the mounting criticism of his government.

“I accept full political responsibility for this tragedy,” Tsipras told a televised meeting with his cabinet ministers. “It is an obvious thing for the prime minister to do and I urge you to do the same.” Rafina Mayor Evangelos Bournous said an evacuation wouldn’t have been an option, given the speed of the fire and the haphazard layout of the area, which featured small winding roads and cliffs next to the sea.

“They speak of an evacuation plan. How can an evacuation plan be implemented on a settlement (built) outside of town planning, which does not have places for people to gather?” he said. “The evacuation plan was that everyone tried to leave all together and they got trapped on the coastal road.” Authorities have said the fire moved with such speed that ordering an evacuation of the area could have resulted in even more casualties. They have also said that the deadly fire may have been the result of arson, and are investigating the source of the fire.


Germany forest fires

sweltered in near-record temperatures, forecast to reach as high as 39 degrees Celsius. Firefighters were battling wildfires near Fichtenwalde, southwest of Berlin, and in northern Saxony-Anhalt.

Public broadcaster ARD posted a picture of a fire engine filling up with water from a swimming pool.

In Berlin, police used a water cannon to drench the parched lawn of Germany’s iconic Reichstag parliament building.

Officials in Hamburg cancelled the annual fireworks due to fears the dry ground could catch fire.

Britain: ‘Furnace Friday’
There was some relief from what British media dubbed Furnace Friday with a heavy downpour in London during the afternoon.

Earlier, meteorologists said the all-time British record of 38.5 C could be broken.

Cross-channel rail operator Eurotunnel cancelled thousands of tickets after “extreme temperatures” and malfunctioning air conditioning disrupted services.

London fire brigade asked councils to ban barbecues in public parks after an increase in call-outs to fires.

High temperatures forced the famously conservative Marylebone Cricket Club into a rare concession: allowing members to attend a match without a jacket.

Netherlands: night fever
The Netherlands counted 1,143 forest fires in the first 25 days of July, compared with 187 in the whole of July 2017.

The country registered its hottest night on record from Thursday to Friday: 24.4 C.

Sweden: barbecue ban
Swedish authorities said 17 forest fires were still burning in the country after others were put out this week.

The country sweltered in its highest temperatures this year: 34.6 C in some southern regions.

Neighbouring Finland said it would send 35 firefighters to Sweden, joining teams from other EU countries.

Rain is forecast for the weekend, but citizens are still banned from lighting barbecues or fires.

Latvia: wildfire tamed
Firefighters in Latvia said they had contained a 1,000-hectare peat bog wildfire in the west.

Latvia has declared a national disaster with a severe drought and temperatures of around 35 C.

Neighbouring Lithuania and Belarus are helping to fight the wildfire.

Storms cool France
Swathes of France have also been sweltering under a heatwave, with temperatures as high as 37 C in Paris on Thursday.

A heavy downpour with hailstones cooled Paris down on Friday evening with storms forecast over the weekend in the north and west of the country, according to forecaster Meteo-France.

Belgium: hotter than 2006
A heatwave has been declared in Belgium. Thursday was the hottest July 26 on record with a high of 34 C, said meteorologist David Dehenaw.

Switzerland: heat alert
Swiss weather authorities issued a heatwave warning for the south of the country.