When NASA’s Terra satellite passed over Northern California’s Yolla Bolly Range Mountains, about 25 miles southwest of Chico, on July 6, 2008, the seven lightning-triggered fires that were part of the Yolla Bolly Complex Fire were mostly hidden by smoke. In places, however, patches of charcoal-colored burned ground were visible. This false-color image from Terra’s Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) uses the sensor’s observations of visible and infrared light to highlight the contrast between burned ground (charcoal), naturally bare ground (tan, such as the alpine regions of Mount Linn), and vegetation (red). According to the July 8, 2008, report from the National Interagency Fire Center, the Yolla Bolly Complex fire was 7,987 acres and 65 percent contained.
NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.
The Basin Complex Fire was clearly active on multiple fronts. The large burn scar in the lower center of the center shows that the fire ran all the way to the coast in places. South of Big Sur, portions of the state’s famously scenic coastal highway (Highway 1) had to be closed.