Friday, September 4, 2009

More Pictures Of Wildfires

The last set having proved to be so popular, here are some more images of California wild fires from space, and related images.

Caption: A combination of smoke and clouds hovered over Los Angeles County on the afternoon of September 2, 2009, as remnants of the Station Fire continued to burn. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image around 1:55 p.m. local time (20:55 UTC) on September 2, 2009. Puffy white clouds hover in the east, but dingy gray smoke lingers in the west and south. (The large image shows smoke spread over the Pacific Ocean.)

As of September 3, the historic observatory and TV and radio transmission lines at Mt. Wilson had escaped the flames, but the fire had exacted a tremendous toll on the community. As of the evening of September 2, the Station Fire had cost more than $27 million to fight, according to the Los Angeles Times. According to September 3 report from California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the fire had burned 144,743 acres (586 square kilometers), and had damaged or destroyed more than 70 homes, three commercial properties, and more than 30 outbuildings or other structures. Hundreds of commercial properties and thousands of homes remained under threat, but the fire was 38 percent contained.

Click to view the full size image.

Image credit: NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Mt. Wilson Observatory still has not had its Internet connection restored. There's a lesson in this for anyone who wants his utilities to survive a wildfire - don't encase them in fiberglass boxes:

Wednesday, 2 Sep 09, noon PDT - There is a great deal of interest in the UCLA Towercam on Mount Wilson, in particular as to when it might be returned to service. All internet connectivity to the Observatory was lost in the back fire setting process yesterday. Yet another lesson we've learned is not to use fiber glass pull boxes. The burning of ground cover melted the lid on one of the few boxes of that type we have on the mountain and then destroyed telephone lines and lines carrying our T1 Internet signals. We don't know when the Internet connection will be restored, but it is likely to be out for a number of days.

Station Fire Threatens Mount Wilson

Maybe if you buried it deep enough you could get away with this, but southern California is pretty warm even without a fire going on.

Meanwhile, the Forest Service has announced that the Station fire was started by arson, as Reuters reports:

A huge wildfire burning in the mountains above Los Angeles, now the largest ever in the county, was started by arson and will be investigated as a homicide, authorities said on Thursday.

The so-called Station Fire has killed two firefighters, destroyed 64 homes and torched an area the size of Chicago in the nine days it has roared across the rugged San Gabriel Mountains overlooking Los Angeles.

"After a forensic examination at the point of origin, arson investigators have concluded that the Station Fire was the result of an act of arson," U.S. Forest Service Commander Rita Wears said.

California Wildfire Declared Arson, Homicide

The title also reflects that since firefighters have died trying to contain this fire, those deaths represent homicides of some sort.

It also goes on to say that local authorities had declared that the Mt. Wilson Observatory would be spared.

Caption: Smoke from wildfires is still visible in this portion of the 250m/pixel image from the "Terra" Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite.

Click to view the full size image.

Image credit: MODIS satellite image portion cropped by Cujo359

Here's a bit of the MODIS satellite image for the Los Angeles area yesterday. As you can see, there's not quite as much smoke, which would suggest that it is more under control than it was on Wednesday or Tuesday.

It's still plenty big enough to be seen from space, though.

UPDATE: Here's one more image I created from this NASA movie (MOV movie file) illustrating the spread of carbon monoxide from the California wildfires.
Image credit: Cujo359

The NASA site explains:

This movie, created using continuously updated data from NASA's "Eyes on the Earth 3-D" feature on NASA's global climate change website (, shows three-day running averages of daily AIRS retrievals of the abundance of carbon monoxide present at 5.5 kilometers (18,000 feet). AIRS is most sensitive to carbon monoxide at this altitude, which is a region conducive to long-range transport of the smoke. As the carbon monoxide is lifted by the fire's heat and blows downwind, it appears in the August 30 AIRS map north and east of the fire as a yellow to red plume that stretches from Southern California across Nevada and Utah. The plume is transported eastward on subsequent days, crossing Denver on August 31, southeastward to Texas on September 1, and reaching the Louisiana Gulf Coast on September 2. As the plume moves further east, mixing of carbon monoxide down to Earth's surface could adversely impact air quality, as it has already done in Salt Lake City and Denver. Previous studies using AIRS data have documented the impact of distant fires on air quality in Houston and other locations.

Pollution from California Wildfires Spreads Across the United States

Just one more thing you can add to the list of crimes of whoever started this thing.

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