Here is a little test I made using CC Particle World and some vector blur to make Fire. It’s not perfect but an interesting study. One of the key things I did was used a wiggle expression on the particle birthrate to give a variable emission pattern like something was burning inconsistently. It’s a little slow to render but it is very high resolution.
Essentially it is 3D, although I haven’t tested it much for things like looking down on it… Currently it is only for AE CS3 but an After Effects tutorial may be possible in the future.