Fire Devil Twister Blazes A Trail In Brazil
A fire tornado caused by brush fires and strong winds has stopped motorway traffic as drivers in Brazil gawped at the rare phenomenon.
The whirlwind of flames burned through fields beside the road in the northwest city of Aracatuba in Sao Paulo state.
But, as quickly as it appeared, the roaring twister fizzled down and just a smouldering line in the land remained.
The firestorm followed a drought which has led to brush fires across Brazil.
It has been three months since it last rained in the region and Sao Paulo state is already suffering from high pollution levels.
Humidity levels have also soared with Globo TV reporting they were similar to those in the Sahara desert.
As a precaution, state authorities have forbidden farmers from burning sugar cane field waste, a typical after-harvest activity.
In the most remote areas municipalities with few resources have been unable to contain fires.
Fire tornados, also known as fire whirls or fire devils, are rare and depend on certain air temperatures and currents to create a vertical, rotating column of air.
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.
At the time most of the buildings in Japan were made from wood and fire spread from house to house, destroying the city.
It estimated the earthquake and the ensuing fire killed between 100,000 and 141,000 people.