It was on August 24, 1814 that British troops occupied Washington,D.C.and set fire to many of the public buildings in the still relatively new national capital, including the presidential mansion. Many of these building where still burning the next day as the sky began to darken in the early afternoon.
Those dark clouds were a severe thunderstorm moving in from the northwest. That storm from all accounts, produced a tornado that roared through the heart of the city destroying many of the private structures not destroyed by the British troops. Feather beds were literally sucked out of homes and scattered throughout the city. Many of the British troops were hit directly by the tornado and killed by the collapsing buildings and flying debris, including their cannons that were picked up and tossed long distances.
The British troops wasted no time in abandoning the city after the storm and never came back, plus, the heavy rain that accompanied the storm helped extinguish some of the fires.