Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Southern California Wildfires Burn Out of Control: New NASA Satellite Images Show Fires' Rapid Growth

NASA satellites continue to capture remarkable new images of the wildfires raging in Southern California. At least 14 massive fires are reported to have scorched about 425 square miles from north of Los Angeles to southeast of San Diego.

These latest images, captured by NASA satellites on the afternoon of October 22, show the thick, billowing smoke coming off the numerous large fires and spreading over the Pacific Ocean. Fire activity is outlined in red.

Dry, drought-stricken vegetation and Santa Ana winds, which can reach hurricane speeds, have contributed to the devastating effect of these blazes. The National Interagency Fire Center reports that the Santa Ana winds are expected to continue through Wednesday.

According to news reports, almost 700 homes have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate.

Today, President Bush issued an emergency declaration for seven California counties, ordering federal disaster relief to the area.

Powerful Santa Ana winds have fueled more than 10 large wildfires throughout Southern California, stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

This pair of images, depicting the area around Los Angeles on October 21, 2007, shows just how quickly the fires grew.

The left image, captured by NASA’s Terra satellite at 11:35 a.m. local time, shows several fires giving off small plumes of smoke. Just over 3 hours later, at 2:50 p.m. when NASA’s Aqua satellite passed overhead, large amounts of smoke were pouring from blazes northwest of Los Angeles. Actively burning fires are outlined in red.

In the right image plumes of smoke can be seen blowing off the coast, indicating the intensity of the winds and the presence of additional fires farther south.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, these blazes have burned over 84,000 acres since they began over the weekend. Thousands of residents have been evacuated from their homes and a state of emergency has been issued for 7 California counties.


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