Witness Australia’s raging fire tornado in real-time

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Last summer as wildfires raged in central Australia, Chris Tangey captured incredible footage of a towering fire devil, or fire tornado, which roared before him “like a fighter jet.”

The footage went viral, understandably, but it did not do the dramatic event justice, Tangey said this week, because much of it was shot in slow motion. But a new video edit, he explained, corrects the speed to real-time and allows viewers to experience—minus the ferocious heat and wind—what it was like to stand before this searing 100-foot “pillar of fire.” (The footage below is starkly vivid; much of it is similar but some of the best is near the end.)

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Tangey, manager of Alice Springs Film and Television, explained that he switched back and forth between 1080i normal speed and 720p slow motion while recording the event over a 40-minute span, and as a result viewers saw footage “that was 2.5 times slower than they actually were on that day.”

The cameraman added: “For the very first time a series of wild clips are precisely corrected back to real-time, or as-it-happened speed. The furious flickering of the 100-foot high tower of fire and wind is now evident.”

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Tangey had been scouting film locations near an old cattle station in the town of Uluru when he encountered the blaze, which spawned several flaming twisters.

He told a news station afterward: “I saw a red tornado, a black one, a white one, and several made of pure fire.”

Fire tornadoes, of fire devils, are created by intense heat and whirling eddies of air. Once formed, they contain a core of flame and an invisible pocket of fresh air, which delivers oxygen to the core.

Sighting them is rare, and filming them is much rarer.

Said Tangey this week: “I have never seen anything so big, move so fast, in my life.”