NASA sees fires covering California in a shroud of smoke

Wildfire smoke from the Camp Fire blankets the land in a heartbreaking satellite image.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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NASA's Terra satellite caught this view of the fire-fueled smoke across California.

NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS)  

Hundreds are missing and dozens dead as major wildfires continue to burn across dry California. Residents of Northern California are laboring underneath a veil of smoke generated by the Camp Fire north of Sacramento. NASA's eyes in orbit are bearing witness to the frightening plume from above.

NASA shared a Nov. 14 image from its Terra satellite showing the mass of smoke covering the state with active fire areas highlighted in red. 

Much of the smoke comes from the 142,000-acre Camp Fire, which is now the deadliest and most destructive in California's history. As of Friday, the fire is still less than 50 percent contained.

"Exceedingly dry conditions and the Santa Ana winds make for an incredibly unstable landscape where a single spark can grow to an inferno in seconds," NASA says.

As scary as the smoke looks from space, the view from the ground is even more harrowing. The National Weather Service tweeted a photo of the San Francisco Bay Area showing thick smoke blanketing the region on Friday. 

The Camp Fire started on Nov. 8. On the same day, the Woolsey Fire lit up Southern California, where it burned through the coastal community of Malibu near Los Angeles. 

NASA posted another Terra satellite image showing the burn scar from the Woolsey Fire. It appears as a brownish-red area in the false-color image.


This image comes from Nov. 14 and shows the burn scar from the Woolsey Fire in Southern California.

NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS)

NASA warns about a danger of mudslides in the burn zone. The Woolsey Fire is nearing 100,000 acres as of Friday and is almost 70 percent contained.

The space agency sees more difficulties ahead for firefighters battling the Camp Fire, which wiped out the town of Paradise. "The continued low relative humidity and dry fuel moistures combined with steep, rugged terrain will continue to challenge control operations," NASA says.

NASA sees breathtaking clouds on Earth and beyond

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