Fires continued to blaze across the western United States and Mexico throughout June, 2013. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over the region on June 27 and captured this true-color image of the multiple infernos.
The state in the north-central portion of the image is Colorado. The major fire burning in the southwest corner of the state is the West Fork Complex, a group of three lightning-caused wildfires (West Fork, Windy Pass and Papoose) that were ignited on June 5. The flames burn in steep, rugged terrain that includes large amounts of beetle-killed spruce, and the extreme terrain, aggressive nature of the fire, and strong winds have made it unsafe for firefighters to directly attack the fire in many areas. While the primary goal of most firefighting is containment, according to press reports, the primary goal in this fire has been protecting homes, businesses and protecting lives. On July 3, the fire struck a large stand of dry-beetle killed spruce in the Papoose Fire region, and an explosive intensification resulted in what witnesses said was a “mushroom cloud” of smoke in the region. As of July 7, total acreage burned was 110,028 acres and the fire was 35% contained.
In New Mexico, situated south of Colorado, the Jaroso fire burns in the northern section of the state. This fire ignited on June 10 due to lightning strike, burns under heavy smoke and clouds. In the southwest the Silver Fire also sends large billows of smoke into the sky. As of July 7, the Jaroso Fire had consumed 11,141 acres and it was burning slowly in extremely difficult terrain. The containment date is estimated to be September 30. On that same date, the Silver Fire, which ignited due to lightning on May 31, had burned 23,965 acres and was 100% contained.