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July 4, 2013 - Smoke and fires in western United States (afternoon overpass)
Smoke and fires in western United States (afternoon overpass) Image used for Spacing Purposes
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 6/26/2013
Resolutions: 1km (363.9 KB)
500m (1.3 MB)
250m (3.1 MB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Credit: Jeff Schmaltz
MODIS Land Rapid Response Team,
NASA GSFC

Multiple large fires burned across the western United States in late June, 2013. NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the region on the afternoon of June 26, allowing the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) to capture this true-color image of the dry land, with at least a dozen fires burning in the sparse, dark green vegetation. To the south, multiple fires also burn in Mexico.

The forested hills of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, filled with dry patches beetle-killed spruce forest, can be seen near the top center of the image. A cluster of fires in the southwestern mountains of that state billows smoke eastward. This area contains the West Fork Complex fire, which consists of three lightning-caused wildfires - the West Fork, Windy Pass and Papoose fires - that burned on the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forest and private land. The terrain is steep and rugged, and is difficult for firefighters to reach. The complex ignited on June 5, and as of July 3 the fire had consumed 97,823 acres, and was still only 7% contained. Further to the east is the East Peak Fire, and to the northwest of the West Fork a solitary red hotspot marks the East Fork fire.

In New Mexico, the northernmost hotspot marks the site of the Jaroso fire, which began as a lightning strike on June 10. As of July 3, it had burned 11,141 acres of mixed conifer, heavy dead and downed fuel, pockets of bug-killed trees and 1,300 acres of downed, dry timber that fell during a wind event six years ago.

In the southwest section of the state, heavy gray smoke rises from the Silver Fire Wildfire. This fire, which ignited on June 7 from lightning strike, was 59% contained on July 3, according to Inciweb. It had burned 137,326 acres of relatively undisturbed forest with high fuel levels. The predicted containment date is July 21.

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