Charleston Fire, Northern Nevada

Charleston Fire in Northern Nevada

18August 2006

Charleston Fire in Northern Nevada

In northeastern Nevada, a 8,000-ha fire was racing through sagebrush, grass, and juniper on16 August 2006. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, a power line, residences, and grazing allotments were being threatened by the Charleston Fire. The fire was exhibiting extreme behavior according to the17 August report. This pair of images of the Charleston Fire, burning in the area between Nevada’s Matterhorn and the Marys River, was captured on16 August by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

16 August 2006

The photo-like, “natural-color” image on top shows places where MODIS detected active fire outlined in red. Thick smoke pours northeastward into Idaho. The bottom image has been enhanced using MODIS’ observations of shortwave and near-infrared light to penetrate the smoke, to emphasize extremely hot areas(bright pink), and to distinguish burned vegetation (brick red) from unburned vegetation(bright green). In this kind of false-color image, the bright pink glow inside some of the active-fire perimeters often indicates openflame.

According to the Western Great Basin Coordination Center of the National Interagency Fire Center, the region was primed for big fires in summer 2006 because of poor snowfall over thewinter. A prolific grass crop from 2005, which normally would have been flattened and compacted by winter’s heavysnow, remained standing across grasslands in spring 2006. In addition, a wet spring produced luxuriant new growth, which dries as the summerprogresses. The standing grass from 2005 combined with the abundant early-2006 growth created a dangerously high load of fuel for summer fires. InJuly, the agency issued a fuel and fire behavior advisory, warning that the accumulation of such large amounts of “finefuels” like grass had increased the risk of intense, severe, and rapidly spreading fires across much of the Western GreatBasin, including northern Nevada.

The high-resolution image provided above has a spatial resolution of 250 meters perpixel.

(source: EarthObservatory)

For more information see:

  • National Interagency Fire Center

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