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The Dreadful Enormity of Southern California's Wildfires


A spell of dry weather and the powerful Santa Ana winds have combined with devastating consequences in Southern California, one of the most populous regions in the country. Right now, four separate wildfires—the Thomas fire, Rye fire, Creek fire and Skirball fire—are raging. The fires, fueled by wind gusts of up to 80 miles per hour, have destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, forced the closure of the 101 freeway, and hundreds of schools are closed as a blanket of smoke envelopes the region.

NASA, with eyes in the sky, has released a collection of photos to monitor the blazes and provide needed perspective on this ongoing emergency—some 1,700 firefighters are risking their lives to contain the fires.

To the left, taken Dec. 5, the Multi Spectral Imager on the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite collected data to build a false-color image of the burn scar in Ventura County. Active fires are in orange, while the burn scar is in brown. Developed areas appear as gray, while unburned vegetation appears green.

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