Satellites began to detect large numbers of fires in Portugal on August 6, 2016. In the following days, the fires grew more numerous and the amount of smoke increased dramatically.
When the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on August 11, 2016, hundreds of fires were raging in Portugal and Spain. More than 4,000 firefighters and 30 aircraft battled the blazes on mainland Portugal. However, heat and strong winds hampered the firefighting efforts.
Meanwhile, wildfires were also burning on the Portuguese island of Madeira and approaching its largest city, Funchal. The fires have killed three people and destroyed more than 150 homes, according to news reports. Authorities think that some of the fires on the island and the mainland may have been set by arsonists. Several suspects have been detained.
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Caption by Adam Voiland.