A rare sight captured on camera, this startling phenomenon looks like a swirling inferno. It’s called a “firenado.”
A stream of 100-foot-high flames ignited deep in the heart of the Australian outback where firefighters have been battling bush fires for nearly a week. This region hasn’t seen rainfall since the end of April.
Chris Tangey, an Australian filmmaker, was scouting locations for a movie shoot near Alice Springs, Australia when he caught this incredible footage. ABC News licensed the stunning video from the 52-year-old filmmaker, who said he was standing about 1,000 feet from the action.
“I knew within 30 seconds that this was a very unique event, probably globally, making the sound of a jet engine. It just didn’t even look real to us,” Tangey said.
Firenados occur when intense tornado-like ground-level winds come in contact with fire, propelling upwards in a column of warm, rising air. The phenomenon usually lasts for two minutes, but Tangey found himself reveling at Mother Nature’s fury for an astonishing 40 minutes.
“I’ve never seen anything so big; move so quickly in my life. It was awe-inspiring absolutely, and it is something I never expect to see again,” said Tangey.
The most notable other example of a fire tornado, or firenado, emerged from Japan’s Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923.
“The flames closed in from all directions, and then, at 4 p.m., a 300-foot-tall ‘fire tornado’ blazed across the area,” according to Smithsonian.com. “All told, 45 percent of Tokyo burned before the last embers of the inferno died out on September 3.”