July 21, 2013 - Mountain Fire, southern California (afternoon overpass)

On July 17, 2013 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over northern California and captured this true-color image of the actively burning Mountain Fire. The large red hotspot indicates where the thermal sensor on the MODIS instrument detected temperatures higher than background. Heavy gray smoke pours from the site, and is blown strongly to the northeast.

The Mountain Fire is burning in extremely steep and rugged land in the southern section of the San Jacinto Wilderness. It ignited from an unknown cause on July 15 near the junction of Highway 243 and Highway 74, and quickly began to consume the chaparral and timber as it was driven by hot, dry winds. On July 20, Inciweb reported that this fire had already consumed 27,278 acres and was only 25% contained. Evacuation orders are in effect for Fern Valley, Idyllwild and Trails End.

Although the wind was blowing at 5-10 mph, and high temperatures were reported to hover near 92 degrees F, with 20-35% humidity on July 20, wetter and cooler weather was predicted. Firefighting crews hoped that the anticipated scattered thundershowers might slow the spread of the flames. It is expected that the fire will reach 100% containment on July 26.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 7/17/2013
Resolutions: 1km (32.1 KB), 500m (90.4 KB), 250m (204.6 KB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC