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Watch: Rare Brazillian 'Fire Tornado' Caught on Video

Watch: Rare Brazillian 'Fire Tornado' Caught on Video

Associated Press

August 27, 2010

BRAZIL – Like a special effect from a Harry Potter film, a tornado of fire rises from the ground as if enchanted.

This rare phenomenon then swept through burning fields and stopped traffic in Brazil as bush fires spread across the country.

The whirlwind of flame, several metres high, was caught on camera in Aracatuba, in southern Sao Paulo state. It was caused by strong, dry winds that fanned wildfires.

A fire tornado, also know as a fire devil occurs when a column of warm, rising air is enveloped by flames. Some can be hundreds of metres high and cause widespread devastation.

The phenomenon followed weeks of drought, which has led to reports of humidity levels in Sao Paulo similar to those of the Sahara desert.

It last rained in the city three months ago.

In 1923, a fire tornado ignited by the Great Kanto earthquake in Tokyo grew to the size of a large city and killed 38,000 people in 15 minutes.