On Thursday (November 15, 2018), University of California Berkeley released a series of satellite images of the area around Paradise, California, that captured the Camp Fire on November 8, 2018, when the fire was only four hours old, yet had already burned halfway through the city.
The images were generated by Jeff Chambers, a Berkeley professor of geography. Chambers used Google’s Earth Engine, which combines an analysis platform, detailed maps, and daily downloads of publicly-available Earth-imaging data from orbiting satellites. The Landsat 8 satellite happened to snap its once-every-16-days shot of that area at 10:45 a.m. local time on Thursday, November 8. See more images here.
Chambers used the satellite data to clock the fire’s speed at about 3 miles (5 km) per hour during its first four hours, driven in part by flying embers that caused the fire to leapfrog up to 2.5 miles (4 km) ahead of the advancing fire front.
As of Thursday, the Camp Fire had scorched 140,000 acres, left at least 56 people dead and destroyed more than 8,700 residences, making it the most destructive fire in California history. It is only 40 percent contained.
Bottom line: Satellite image of the area around Paradise, California, on the morning of November 8, 2018 shows the Camp Fire when it was only 4 hours old, yet had already burned halfway through the city.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.