Firefighter captures picture of ‘fire whirl’ at Beaver Creek Fire

JACKSON COUNTY, Colo. — 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 to 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 burning northwest of Walden near the Colorado-Wyoming border.

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 burned more than 36,000 acres since June and is 44 percent contained. It is not expected to be under control until October.