This false-color image over the Bitterroot National Forest, Montana, was
made using data acquired on Aug. 14 by Landsat 7's Enhanced Thematic
Mapper plus (ETM+). As of Aug. 21, more than 200,000 acres (300 square
miles) of the Bitterroot have burned and hundreds of people in the area
have been evacuated from their homes. In all, about 30 large blazes
across Montana have burned more than 600,000 acres (937 square miles).
In this image, dull red pixels show recent burn scars, while bright red
pixels depict the flaming portions of the burn. (Look underneath the blue
smoke at the top of the image.) The green pixels show
vegetated regions not burned. The image was made using a combination of
ETM+ Bands 7, 4, 1 (shortwave infrared, near-infrared, and blue
Nationally, there were about 90 wildfires burning that have consumed an
estimated 1,393,426 acres (2,177 square miles) across 10 states,
according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. There
were significant wildfires in Arizona (3), California (1), Florida (2),
Idaho (28), Nevada (6), Oregon (1), Texas (3), Utah (3), and Wyoming
(10). It appears that most of the blazes were ignited by lightning
strikes, although some have been attributed to human error.
The news service CNN reports that nationally, 68,791 wildfires this year
have burned 5,669,328 acres (8,858 square miles). By comparison, the
land area of New Jersey is 7,418 square miles; Massachusetts is 7,838
square miles in size; and New Hampshire is 8,969 square miles. Fire
officials are calling the summer of 2000 the worst fire season in more
than 50 years.
Image courtesy Rich Irish, Landsat 7 Team, NASA GSFC; Data provided by
EROS Data Center.