Firefighter forced to jump into river to avoid fire tornado; video

A campfire that got out of hand near a section of the Sturgeon River in Alberta, Canada, turned into a dangerous fire tornado that had firefighters scrambling for their lives with one firefighter being forced to jump into the river to escape the heat.

The fire broke out on Thursday near St. Albert’s Big Lake, a section of the Sturgeon River northwest of Edmonton, and the St. Albert Firefighters responded.

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

A witness across the water, Diane Logan, shot video of what happened next, as you can see above.

A fire tornado was created and sent a group of firefighters running for safety as they yelled to Pashko to watch out. You can see Pashko run out of the dark smoke of the fire tornado and head for the water.

“I turned around and saw the big storm of ash coming towards me,” Pashko told CBC News. “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.”

Pashko suffered first-degree burns to his arm, face and ear but was back on the job the next day, according to Caters News agency, which posted the video Monday. (Note: The video has no sound and, unfortunately, doesn’t show the moment Pashko hits the water).

Fortunately, no other firefighters were injured.

“I was really lucky,” Pashko told CBC News. “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.”

A St. Albert Fire Department spokesperson told Caters, “I can’t say for certain exactly how this phenomenon happened. We have firefighters here that have been on the job for 40 years and have never seen anything like it.”

Pashko told CBC News it was the most dangerous situation he’s faced in his nine years as a firefighter.

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