Forest Fires from Space

Wired has a fascinating and tough look at the forest fires that have been raging in the west, all from the vantage point of space. Make sure to click on the images to see the devastation full size.

Via Wired:

The scale of the fires burning in the Western United States this summer can be hard to fathom. But the view from space reveals the true extent of the devastation. Satellites have captured some sobering images of the fire, smoke and burn scars scattered across the Intermountain West.

While the fires in Colorado are dominating the news this week, blazes have also been raging in New Mexico, Utah and Arizona in June. Here are some of the scenes from space collected by NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey this month.


This view from NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-15, on June 28 shows fires dotting the Rockies and sending smoke over huge swaths of the Midwest. Much of the smoke in this image is from blazes in Wyoming.

These images captured by the USGS’s Landsat 5 and 7 satellites show the Fort Collins area on June 8 before the fire (left) and on June 18 (right) after 60,000 acres and 189 homes had burned. As of June 29, the High Park fire had destroyed at least 259 homes and torched more than 87,000 acres. The burn scar shows up in dark red, active fires in bright red and smoke in light blue in these images taken by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plusinstrument.Images: USGS

These images of the High Park fire near Fort Collins were captured by NASA’s Aquasatellite on June 9 (left) and June 10 (right). The approximate extent of the active fire is outlined in red. As of June 29, the High Park fire had destroyed at least 259 homes and torched more than 87,000 acres.

Images: NASA

These images of the Whitewater Baldy Fire in New Mexico were taken on June 5 by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1(EO-1) satellite. The false-color image (right) shows the massive burn scar in red and active fire in orange. By June 14, New Mexico’s largest fire ever had burned 290,000 acres. The natural color image (left) is a close-up of the area inside the white box in the image on the right.

Images: NASA