FIREFIGHTERS battling a huge grassfire in Queensland have witnessed a rarely seen phenomenon: a fire tornado.
Photos of the tornado are being passed around fire stations after crews fighting the fire near Thargomindah, about 1100 kilometres west of Brisbane, watched in awe as it formed inside the inferno.
The Bulloo Shire mayor, John Ferguson, said the column of flame was photographed as it rose to a height of about 300 metres.
''Then about 30 metres of flame broke off and flew about 400 metres over the fire break, which was the main road, and started another fire,'' Cr Ferguson said.
The Queensland Rural Fire Service Superintendent, Wayne Waltisbuhl, said that the phenomenon occured when an intensely hot fire sucked in colder air around it. As the hot air rose, cool air is sucked into a central hotspot and begins to spin, creating a vortex of flame, he said.