Earth Imaging Journal: Remote Sensing, Satellite Images, Satellite Imagery
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Though the sun was shining, those vacationing on the beaches in the Outer Banks may have experienced a hazy day. Smoke from southern Virginia’s Lateral West fire drifted south on Aug. 10, 2011, fanning out over coastal North Carolina. The previous day, smoke had been blowing north into the Washington, D.C., region.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this image on Aug. 10. The fire is outlined in red.

Lightning started the fire on Aug. 4 in dry grass and brush in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The fire is burning in pine forest, grass, brush, dead fuel left from a previous fire and dry organic soil. As of late Aug. 9, the fire had consumed 3,200 acres. Because of the difficulty in fighting this type of fire, it will likely burn until at least six inches of rain falls in a short period of time, according to fire managers.

Perhaps the greatest threat posed by the Lateral West Fire is the dense smoke it is producing. Smoke can damage human health. It irritates the eyes and respiratory system and causes low visibility.

NASA image courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek.

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