In Spain, fires typically become severe in June as summer heat arrives. But in 2023, the fire season got off to an early start with an intense blaze that raged in the eastern Castellon province in late March.
Poor rainfall over the past three years had already primed forests in the province to burn, and warm, windy weather worsened the situation after the blaze ignited near Villanueva de Viver on March 23, 2023. Temperatures were above 25 Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) when the fire broke out, according to Spain’s State Meteorological Agency (AEMET). At times, winds of up to 70 kilometers (44 miles) fanned the flames.
When an astronaut on the International Space Station took this photograph of the blaze on March 27, a thick plume of smoke streamed southeast toward the Mediterranean Sea. The fire forced more than 1,800 people to evacuate, according to Agence France-Presse. Dozens of aircraft and hundreds of firefighters have been deployed to fight the fire, which has charred at least 4,300 hectares (10,500 acres).
Although satellite imagery indicates the fire has died down considerably, AEMET listed the risk of fire in the coming days as extreme.
Astronaut photograph ISS068-E-076622 was acquired on March 27, 2023, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 210-millimeters. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 68 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Story by Adam Voiland.