Firefighter captures pic of terrifying 'fire whirl'

Story highlights

  • Remarkable "fire tornado" was photographed near the Beaver Creek Fire in Colorado
  • Fire tornados are dangerous, but stunning, natural events

(CNN)Some say the world will end in fire, but even those who favor such a Frost-ian demise probably don't want to be done in by something as abjectly terrifying as this "fire tornado"

Fire tornadoes, or fire whirls, are real things. But despite the name, they aren't some sort of horrible conflagration of fire and an actual tornado. Fire whirls happen when hot, dry air close the the ground -- like that near a fire -- rises rapidly in a column, forming a vortex.
    This whirl was captured by a firefighter near the Beaver Creek Fire, which is currently raging near Walden, Colorado.
    It would be easy to make some sort of "Eye of Sauron" joke, because that thing looks positively otherworldly. However, fire tornadoes, though usually brief phenomena, can be extremely dangerous. It's literally a raging column of fire.
    The Beaver Creek Fire has been burning since June, and is expected to be under control by October.