Fires in Washington and Idaho
Fires have been a constant source of trouble for the western United States this past summer and into the fall. Fires that started as far back as July 27 are still raging on.
The three fires shown in this satellite image in Washington State, the St. Mary's Mission Fire, the Cascade Creek Fire, and the Wenatchee Fire are all still uncontained. The St. Mary's Mission Fire on the Colville Indian Reservation was started on October 2, 2012. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. It has already affected almost 17,000 acres since it began. Two homes and eight structures were lost in the first hours of the blaze. The Wenatchee Fire has been burning since September 9, 2012 and over 56,000 acres have been affected. The cause of this blaze was a lightning strike. The Cascade Creek Fire has been burning since September 9 and was caused by a lightning strike. Over 20,000 acres have burned to date. The total projected cost estimate for this fire alone is $15,000,000.
In Idaho, as many as three dozen fires still burn across the state. The fires shown in this satellite image include the McGuire Complex Fire, the Mustang Complex Fire, and the Halstead Fire. The Mustang Complex Fire is by far the largest. It began with a lightning strike on July 30, 2012. To date over 340,000 acres have been affected by this fire. This fire is actually made up of a number of fires that over the course of the past two months have converged on each other and been taken over by the large complex fire. It is currently 59 percent contained. The McGuire Complex Fire started by lightning on August 30. It has burned over 43,000 acres and is currently 50 percent contained. Cool weather and shortened burning periods kept fire activity light on October 9 and gave fire fighters further opportunity to secure lines and mop up some hot spots along the perimeter of the fire. The Halstead Fire has been burning since July 27. Over 181,000 acres have burned over the course of this fire and it is currently 65 percent contained. This, too, was ignited by a lightning strike. Large pockets of unburned vegetation remain within the fire perimeter, with hot areas scattered throughout which are capable of burning actively. It is anticipated these remaining uncontained areas will continue to burn until significant precipitation is received.
This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on October 07, 2012. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner with information from Inciweb.org