View from space: Wildfires in Colorado and central Russia

As wildfires blaze in the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado today (June 27, 2012), NASA has released an image of the blaze from space, taken yesterday (June 26). Plus, here are some other images from recent days of fires in Colorado – and in central Russia, where a state of emergency was declared on June 18 – viewed by NASA satellites. The first image here is the Waldo Canyon fire, which is now threatening Colorado Springs.

Violent and dangerous wildfire burning in Colorado Springs

NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image of the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado on June 26, 2012. Red outlines approximate the locations of the actively burning Waldo Canyon wildfire. The Waldo Canyon fire doubled in size overnight last night (June 26) and has now forced the evacuation of 30,000 or more Colorado Springs residents.

Click here to expand image above

West of Colorado Springs, the Waldo Canyon Fire is the one making big news today (June 27). It has now forced over 30,000 people to flee from their homes in the northern part of the city of Colorado Springs, as all-time high temps, low humidity and windy conditions fan the flames. The Waldo Canyon fire started on June 23. It has now burned 15,517 acres, InciWeb said minutes ago, with an unknown number of homes destroyed. For more about the Colorado Springs wildfires, click here.

NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image – which shows much of the state of Colorado – on June 23, 2012. Red outlines approximate the locations of actively burning fires. The High Park and Weber Fires produced the largest plumes of smoke.

Click here to expand image above

The High Park Fire – started by lightning on June 9, 2012 – has now burned 87,284 acres, according to InciWeb (updated minutes ago), making it the second-largest fire in Colorado history, after the Hayman Fire that burned 138,114 acres in 2002.

In the opposite corner of Colorado, the Weber Fire started on June 22. It has now burned 9,155 acres, InciWeb just reported.

In contrast, check out these fires in central Russia, from earlier this month. Notice the scale of the images. The one below that is a much closer view.

NASA’s Terra satellite acquired these images of numerous fires and heavy smoke near the borders of Khanty-Mansiisk, Krasnoyarsk, and Tomsk on June 18. Active fires are shown with red outlines.

Click here to expand image above

A closer image (notice scale) of the same region as above, also from NASA’s Terra satellite on June 18, 2012.

Click here to expand image above

Both of these images are from June 18, 2012, the day on which a state of emergency was declared in Russia because of these fires. These fires are near the borders of Khanty-Mansiisk, Krasnoyarsk, and Tomsk. NASA said:

Numerous fires are burning through taiga in Krasnoyarsk (bottom), and a large pall of smoke to the south covers much of Tomsk (top). According to Russian authorities, many of the fires started when people lost control of agricultural fires and campfires. However, lightning sparked some of the blazes as well. According to the environmental group Greenpeace, more land in Russia has burned this year than in 2010, a year that intense wildfires affected western Russia and produced rare pyrocumulus “fire clouds.”

Sources for this story: NASA and InciWeb. For more about the Waldo Canyon image, click here. For more about the second image (whole state of Colorado), click here. For more about the images from central Russia, click here.

Bottom line: Here are four satellite images of wildfires in Colorado and central Russia, as viewed by NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites.

June 27, 2012

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Deborah Byrd

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