Though most of them last for only a few minutes, fire tornadoes—also known as fire whirls or fire devils—move quickly and can cause massive destruction. They're capable of picking up cars and even houses as they spin across the landscape. However, they're more similar to dust devils than true tornadoes, as they result when hot, dry air rises from the ground.
Here's how they happen: energy released by a burning fire makes a column of hot air rise, and wind fanning the fire makes that column twist, forming a small tornado. Fire tornados form when that pocket of air surrounds a central burning core, meanwhile bringing in combustible gases from burning plants that itself ignites to join in the fray. According to National Geographic, "The tornado's core is often one to three feet across but can expand up to tens of feet in the largest cases."