Fires in Oregon

Fires in Oregon

A cloudless summer day afforded the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite this clear view of fires in central Oregon on August 25, 2010. Three of the fires, the View Lake Fire Complex, the White Lightning Complex, and the Scott Mountain Fire, are large incidents being managed by fire fighters. The remaining two clusters of fires are unnamed fires. All of the fires that MODIS detected are outlined in red.

Ironically, the largest of the fires, the White Lightning Complex, is the least visible. According to the multi-agency incident report for the fire, it had burned 33,701 acres and was 70 percent contained by August 27. Burning primarily in grass, sage, and juniper, the fires in the White Lightning Complex are cooler and less smoky than other fires in the scene. MODIS detected two hot spots on the south edge of the fire area on August 25. The White Lightning Complex consists of several lightning-ignited fires, and may include the cluster of fires in the brown grasslands north of the fire label. The land around this cluster of three fire detections is charred dark brown showing where recent fires have burned.

The remaining fires burn in the forests of the Cascade Mountains. The View Lake Fire Complex and Scott Mountain fires were also ignited by lightning. These fires burned in conifer forests and, as a result, were producing far more smoke. Like the White Lightning Complex, the View Lake Fire Complex consists of several fires and may include the unnamed fire to the north.

Fire managers use MODIS fire detections and images such as this one to get a big-picture view of fires. Twice-daily images of Oregon are available from the MODIS Rapid Response Team.

NASA image courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek.

References & Resources