Published on 16 Sep 2012.
THERE'S something mean and magical about Australia's Outback. An Alice Springs filmmaker captured both when a whirlwind of fire erupted before his eyes.
Chris Tangey of Alice Springs Film and Television was scouting locations near Curtin Springs station, about 80km from Ularu, last week when confronted by a fiery phenomenon.
He had just finished his tour of the station when workers encountered difficulties with a grader. So he went to help them.
A small fire was burning in nearby bushland, so Mr Tangey decided to start filming.
He caught the sight of his life.
A twister touched down on the spot fire, fanning it into a furious tower of flame.
"It sounded like a jet fighter going by, yet there wasn't a breath of wind where we were," he told the Northern Territory News.
"You would have paid $1000 a head if you knew it was about to happen."
The column of fire danced about the landscape for about 40 minutes, he said, as he and the station workers stood transfixed.
There was talk of making a quick getaway, Mr Tangey said. But everyone was too hypnotised to feel scared - and he continued furiously filming.
"The bizarre thing was that it rarely moved," he said.
"These things just stood there because there was no wind to move them ... but it was flickering incredibly fast."
Darwin weather forecaster David Matthews said small twisters were common in isolated areas. But the fiery vortex was highly unusual.
"The flames would have assisted by trying to suck in air and that could have helped generate those circular winds," Mr Matthews said.