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Fire Whirl Photographed In Missouri Looks Like A Tornado Of Nightmares

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What's worse than a tornado full of sharks? It's a tornado full of fire -- also known as a "fire whirl" or, even more ominously, a "fire devil." And unlike a "Sharknado," this fire devil is real.

Instagram user nicejalapeno caught one over the weekend in Chillicothe, Mo.:

"Had such a wonderful weekend, but this had to be the coolest/scariest thing I've ever seen," she wrote. "A farmer burning off his field and as we stopped so I could take a picture the wind whipped up this fire twister. #nofilter #firestorm #firetwister"

KMBC 9 News identified the poster as Janae Copelin.

"Thanks to my love of Instagram I chose to drive by and as I stopped to take a picture the wind whipped up the fire into this funnel," Copelin told KMBC via email. "The sound and heat were intense and a bit scary not knowing if it would stay put, but it only lasted a couple minutes."

While we can't say for sure that the image hasn't been doctored, The Weather Channel re-posted it on its Facebook page and warned that "with the record heat broiling the plains this week, fire whirls will not be out of the question."

They also linked to this page, which explains how fire whirls are formed.

Fire whirls "are rapidly spinning vortices that form when air superheated by an intense wildfire rises rapidly, consolidating low-level spin from winds converging into the fire like a spinning ice skater, pulling its arms inward," writes senior meteorologist Jon Erdman.

He adds that they're very narrow, but can reach heights of 100 feet.

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Fire whirl - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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