Light from the County Fire illuminated the night skies of Northern California when the Suomi NPP satellite acquired this image overnight on July 1, 2018. With plenty of light from a nearly full moon, the smoke was even visible streaming southwest toward San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
The fire had started the day before and burned several thousands of acres near the rural community of Guinda, but it quadrupled in size overnight as strong winds fanned the flames in hot, dry weather. By the afternoon of July 3, the blaze—just 5 percent contained—had charred more than 70,000 acres (30,000 hectares) and forced hundreds of people to evacuate the area.
This nighttime image was acquired with the “day night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi. VIIRS detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe signals such as city lights, auroras and wildfires.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).