Witness Australia’s raging fire tornado in real-time


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.”


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.”