The 30 metre high tornado of FIRE that whirled around Australian outback for terrifying 40 minutes


 

By SOUTH WEST NEWS SERVICE

PUBLISHED: 07:01 EST, 17 September 2012 UPDATED: 08:07 EST, 17 September 2012


An astonished filmmaker is coming to grips with the moment he witnessed one of nature’s rarest phenomenons – a tornado comprised entirely of fire- and lived to tell the tale.

Chris Tangey had been out in Alice Springs, Australia, scouting locations for a new movie.

After finishing the task, he went over to help workers at a cattle station when he was confronted by one of nature’s most intimidating spectacles.

Fire storm: A filmmaker in Alice Springs, Australia shot some video of a fire tornado that happened on Monday

Fire storm: A filmmaker in Alice Springs, Australia shot some video of a fire tornado that happened on Monday

 

 
Distant view: At the time, he was300-metres away from the 30-metre high fire swirl which 'sounded like a fighter jet' despite there being no wind in the area

Distant view: At the time, he was300-metres away from the 30-metre high fire swirl which ‘sounded like a fighter jet’ despite there being no wind in the area

 

 
Destructive: A fire tornado, also know as a fire devil, is caused when a column of warm, rising air comes into contact - or causes - a fire on the ground

Destructive: A fire tornado, also know as a fire devil, is caused when a column of warm, rising air comes into contact – or causes – a fire on the ground

Just 300-metres away was a 30-metre high fire swirl which ‘sounded like a fighter jet’ despite there being no wind in the area.

SCIENCE BEHIND THE STORM

These fire tornadoes are a natural rarity, but when they occur they predictably cause significant damage.

A fire tornado, also know as a fire devil, is caused when a column of warm, rising air comes into contact – or causes – a fire on the ground.

They are known to last for around two minutes on the very rare occasions they take place.

A fire tornado, also know as a fire devil, is caused when a column of warm, rising air comes into contact – or causes – a fire on the ground.

These fire whirls are known to last for around two minutes on the very rare occasions they take place.

But Mr Tangey found himself mesmerized by the tornado for more than 40 minutes.

The 52-year-old said: ‘The weather was perfectly still and it was about 25 degrees celsius – it was an entirely uneventful day.

‘Then the next thing a man is yelling ‘what the hell is that?’ and I turned around and saw a 30-metre fire tornado.

‘I was about 300-metres away and there was no wind but the tornado sounded like a fighter jet. My jaw just dropped.’

Mr Tangey, who runs Alice Springs Film and Television, in central Australia, described it as a ‘once in ten lifetimes experience’.

 
Brewing storm: The fire whirl occurred in the Australian outback as the red cliffs show the area's trademark look

Brewing storm: The fire whirl occurred in the Australian outback as the red cliffs show the area’s trademark look

 

 
Dangerous conditions: The dry heat in the area made it possible for such a rare fire storm to occur
Dangerous conditions: The dry heat in the area made it possible for such a rare fire storm to occur
 

Dangerous conditions: The dry heat in the area made it possible for such a rare fire storm to occur

 

 
Rural: Thankfully the fire tornado occurred in the remote Australian outback and no injuries were reported

Rural: Thankfully the fire tornado occurred in the remote Australian outback and no injuries were reported

He added: ‘I’ve been shooting in the outback for 23 years and I have never seen anything like it. We’ve heard about them but they’re never seen.

‘If I had known what was about to happen then I would have happily paid $1,000 to watch it.

‘At any time there were three different tornadoes, it just kept going and going for 40 minutes.

‘The whole experience was staggering and the length and variety were astonishing.’

Predictably, these rare spectacles are extremely dangerous.

In 1923, a fire whirl emerged during Japan’s Great Kanto Earthquake and killed 38,000 people in just 15 minutes.




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