On March 12, 2009, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite caught a glimpse of a relatively rare event: largeâ€“scale forest fires in the Himalaya Mountains of Nepal. Places where the sensor detected active fires are outlined in red. The numerous small fires in southern Nepal may not be wildfires, but rather agricultural or other land-management fires.
The image is centered on Nepal, and it shows the towering Himalaya Mountains arcing through the small country. Many national parks and conservation areas are located along the northern border of the country, and the fires appear to be burning in or very near some of them. Five people were killed by the forest fire southwest of Annapurna in early March; according to a news report they were overtaken while in the forest gathering firewood. According to that report, Nepal commonly experiences some small forest fires each spring, which is the end of the dry season there. However, conditions during the fall and winter of 2008 and 2009 were unusually dry, and fires set by poachers to flush game may have gotten out of control.