The Piute Fire, burning south of Lake Isabella in the Sequoia National Forest in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, was one of the more than 300 wildfires burning across the state of California in early July 2008. The fire started June 28 just north of Twin Oaks, California, and had burned nearly 34,000 acres as of July 10, according to reports from the National Interagency Fire Center. They estimated the fire might not be brought under control for another 2 weeks.
One of the largest and most destructive fires raging across California over the weekend of July 4 was the Basin Fire, threatening Big Sur, and covering the coast in a thick blanket of smoke. Astronaut Greg Chamitoff, observing the fires from 344 kilometers (215 miles) above the Earth aboard the International Space Station, was able to capture the regional view of the smoke pall. At the time this image was taken, more than 300 fires were burning in California alone. The Basin Fire was triggered by a thunderstorm, has burned 77,000 acres, and as of July 10, was still only partially contained.
Dozens of uncontained fires continued to burn in California in the first week of July 2008. The fires, most of them started by an intense lightning storm in the first week of summer, were threatening residences, cultural resources, and utility infrastructure, such as power lines. This image of the state was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASAs Aqua satellite on July 9, 2008. Places where MODIS detected active fires are marked in red. According to the July 10 morning report from the National Interagency Fire Center, among the most active and dangerous fires were the American River Complex, which was spreading via sustained crown runs (through the tops of the trees); the Canyon Complex, which was forcing evacuations in the town of Paradise and areas nearby; and the Basin Complex near Big Sur, which grew more than 4,000 acres in the previous 24 hours.