Pictures: Fire "Tornado" Spotted—How Do They Form?

A fire tornado blazes near Curtin Springs, Australia, in a still of a recently released video.

Chris Tangey of Alice Springs Film and Television was filming a wildfire when a small twister touched down, "causing it to build into a spinning flame," according to Australia's (Watch a video of the fire tornado.)

Also known as fire whirls, fire devils, or even firenados, these whirlwinds of flame are not really rare, just rarely documented, Jason Forthofer, a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Forest Services's Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory in Montana, said in 2010. (Also see "Fire Tornado Seen Spinning Over Hungary.")

As Tangey told Northern Territory News, "It sounded like a jet fighter going by, yet there wasn't a breath of wind where we were."