#CarrFire – Satellite Shows California Shrouded in Smoke

This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Aqua satellite on July 29, 2018. Actively burning areas, detected by thermal bands, are outlined in red. NASA image courtesy NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) project.  Click to enlarge.

NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural color image of the fires in California and the resultant smoke that has shrouded the state and swept eastward as far as Salt Lake City and still moving. Dangerous and deadly fires have broken out across the state including the Carr fire inferno and the long-standing Ferguson fire near Yosemite National Park as well as the Mendocino Complex north of Santa Rosa.

The Carr fire located near Redding, California has exploded over the week from its inception.  Now at 98,724 acres and is 20% contained.  Six people have died as a result of this deadly fire and the Carr fire has also destroyed 723 residences, 3 commercial buildings, and 240 outbuildings with over 5,000 more structures in danger. There are a staggering number of mandatory evacuations that can be found at the Shasta County Sheriff’s website.  Over 3,300 firefighters are engaged in this effort. Weather forecasts are not favorable for fighting this or any of the other fires in California. The hot, dry weather that contributed to the deadly California firestorm shows no sign of letting up into the first part of August.

Firefighters have been attacking the Ferguson blaze near Yosemite National Park since July 13. The fire has consumed more than 56,659 acres and was 30 percent contained on Saturday night, according to Inciweb. Much of the fire is burning in steep, rugged terrain with little to no access roads. 3,766 personnel that are currently engaged on the fire. There has been 2 fatalities and 7 injuries to date. 1 structure has been destroyed. As with the Carr fire, the hot, dry weather coupled with winds makes fighting this or any blaze incredibly difficult.

The River fire (part of the Mendocino Complex) located north of Santa Rosa broke out on July 27, 2018. This fire has consumed 20,911 acres and is currently 5% contained.  Six residents and one outbuilding have been destroyed with another 10,000 structures being threatened. Mandatory evacuation orders are in place. Firefighters continue to battle both fires. Crews worked throughout the night to reinforce containment lines while the fire behavior remained extreme. Weather conditions will continue to challenge firefighters as hot, dry and windy conditions persist.  The Ranch fire (the other half of the Mendocino Complex) is 35,076 acres in size and is 5% contained.  The cause of both fires is under investigation. There are mandatory evacuations in place for both fires.

The Governor of California, Gov. Edmund Brown, has declared a state of emergency in Lake, Mendocino and Napa Counties due to the number and ferocity of the fires currently plaguing these counties.

NASA’s EOSDIS provides the capability to interactively browse over 600 global, full-resolution satellite imagery layers and then download the underlying data. Many of the available imagery layers are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it looks “right now”. This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Aqua satellite on July 29, 2018. Actively burning areas, detected by thermal bands, are outlined in red. NASA image courtesy NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) project.  Caption:  Lynn Jenner with information from CAL fire and Inciweb.

Via NASA Earth Observatory

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Duncan Smith
July 30, 2018 11:38 am

Hats-off to the some 3,300 firefighters, brutal & dangerous work, many of whom I’m sure are volunteers (and inmates).

July 30, 2018 12:20 pm

Fires in California are not a new problem. My understanding (although minimum) is that forestry experts and other experts KNOW the vulnerable areas of California that have ALWAYS been high-risk fire areas. There are fire-risk zone maps. There is acknowledgement of the problem of trying to live in the type of landscape prone to fires that developers and other people insist on trying to develop as human-habitable zones.

Many people KNOW the risks, yet they keep building and developing in high-risk areas, so it seems.

What do you expect, when you build your community near what amounts to a gasoline pump, where the slightest spark directed just right could blow it up?

If you know that a landscape is at high risk of catching fire, then why do you build there?, … why do you live there? And if you DO build there or live there, then do you truly understand the risks that you are taking? Are you willing to accept the possibility that you might loose it all?

I get the feeling that lots of people living in California and lots of people watching news must live in some la la land of fire denial, when much of the state of CA is NATURALLY fire prone, as I understand it.

Living in la la fire-denial land requires that thousands of people put their lives at risk to fight what is a foreseeable, avoidable fight altogether, if people would just admit that wildfires are a part of California’s nature. If more people made appropriate decisions stemming from this awareness of the facts, then there might be fewer instances of breaking news stories like this to feed the piranah-like frenzie of news agencies and the mass-mania hunger for bad news.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
July 30, 2018 1:00 pm

I agree having lived in CA (bay area) for 28 years. BUT, humans build all over the world in places that are prone to natural destructive (to human development) events. Most of CA IS semi-arid even though current maps do not show it to be that way. (Probably because of politics) The predominate Indian tribe in CA, the Miwok (also spelled Miwuk, Mi-Wuk, or Me-Wuk) have a rich spoken history, wherein they speak of “great” fires all across CA in the summer (particularly in the big valley) AND how they “set” fires when the conditions were right to burn-out unwanted (non-productive to them) vegetation, including trees so the would have space to plant what they wanted. When I lived in CA we had in cabin in — Mi-wuk Village, and study some of their history.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
July 30, 2018 1:05 pm

Robert, virtually everywhere in California is at risk of fire. The exception is the deserts of the Imperial Valley, including the Sonora and Mojave. They’re mostly uninhabitable, unless one wants to waste large amounts of water.

The Santa Clara Valley, where I live, south of San Francisco is loaded with trees. So is most of everywhere else. We also get earthquakes, which don’t correlate with tree-cover anyway. So, your criticism is ill-placed.

Everywhere has its hazards: tornadoes, howling blizzards, heatwaves, hurricanes. Nowhere is safe.

Reply to  Pat Frank
July 30, 2018 2:45 pm

Everywhere is not EQUALLY hazardous with respect to ALL hazards, however.

And how does the fact that earthquakes not correlating with tree cover lead you to an “anyway” statement that my criticism is ill placed?

I am speaking SPECIFICALLY of high risk (KNOWN high-risk) fire areas. Not tornadoes, not hurricanes, not any other force of nature that we can mush altogether into a broad generalization that “everywhere has its hazards”, without any specific qualifications to focus the context and severity of a SPECIFIC hazard.

California, as I understand it, has a well-drawn fire-hazard zone map. You know the zones. You know the risks. You build and develop, knowing the zones and the risks, and then people make a big deal out of the actualization of the risk, as if it is some unforeseen, tragic event. It is NOT unforeseen. It should NOT be a great surprise. It is the logical outcome of acting within known risks, and then acting like those risks never existed.

I’m not criticizing the right to choose to take the risks of developing and/or living in known high-risk fire landscapes. I am criticizing the reaction of some of those people to the reality that they so choose.

I would have to be extremely wealthy to make such a choice, because I would know the level of high risk in my investment in such development, and I would need enough wealth to rebuild, move on, or recoup in some other way.

You know the saying, “If you can’t take the heat” [well, I’m gonna to re-write it a bit] “get out of CA fire-prone zones.”


Pat Frank
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
July 30, 2018 4:17 pm

Virtually all of the livable space on that map is high to severe fire risk, Robert. Should they all be off limits?

Right now, the Hayward Fault in the East Bay (across from SF) is higher risk for earthquakes.
Should everyone move out?

Risk of earthquake or fire cover nearly the entire state, Robert. So, either your criticism is ill-placed or we should evacuate California.

Reply to  Pat Frank
July 30, 2018 11:10 pm

I live in New Hampshire, it and Maine are the two most forested states in the country. The biggest forest fires here were due bad logging practices a century ago. Normally we’re called “The Asbestos Forest” for our near rain forest conditions.

We have earthquakes, in the 1940s we had some around magnitude 4.5. Our non-fractured bedrock conducts the shaking very well. In the time I’ve lived here I’ve heard of one cracked basement foundation and one mirror that fell over.

We do have tornadoes, we’ve already had our average for a year – 5. That might include Maine too. Maybe all of New England – Connecticut recently had a pair. All EF0s and EF1s.

Blizzards are fun, we still talk about the Blizzard of 1978, even though Massachusetts and Rhode Island got the brunt of it.

Hurricanes can be too exciting, the one in 1938 benefited from conditions that have yet to repeat, but could. We have more hardwood trees now, they’re harder to blow over than the mature white pine back then.

All in all, it’s a lot safer here than in California!

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
July 30, 2018 1:49 pm

If you decide to build on the seashore or river bank you mainly need to be concerned with nature. In a fire prone region a single idiot 30 miles away can wipe you out as easily as nature. Up the odds with 5,000+ people, many of whom may be idiots.

Reply to  eyesonu
July 30, 2018 3:32 pm

That single idiot is part of the fire-prome landscape dynamic and has to be figured into the risks as a part of nature there. It’s not like dumping a bucket of water in the ocean is equivalent to lighting a match.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
July 31, 2018 11:57 am

Robert, you are correct. It is like continually building on the coast and in a flood plain then act like the world has changed because there is more economic damage when a storm hits.

July 30, 2018 12:29 pm

The Carr fire: “Ignited last Monday due to a spark caused by a vehicle failure…” http://time.com/5352624/carr-fire-redding-california/

Yet we won’t hear that the fire is due to human presence in fire-prone areas; instead we’ll hear that it’s due to climate change.

Eric Stevens
Reply to  Don132
July 30, 2018 4:17 pm

More than one significant fire has been caused by contact of flammable material (brush, grass etc) with the external casing of a properly functioning catalytic converter in a vehicle’s exhaust system. These are random fires but not accidental in that their occurrence is inevitable.

Reply to  Eric Stevens
July 30, 2018 5:37 pm

Agree. My point is that we’ll see confusion of causes: the media will say that these fires are due to CO2 warming, which they now call “climate change” to confuse the issue of real, persistent and natural climate changing with the theory of CO2 warming. So everyone will imagine that they see proof of “climate change” in California wildfires, when what they’re really seeing is an area historically prone to periods of drought that’s being affected by increasing human presence. But few will actually see this; instead, what they’ll see is what they’re told to see.

Lance Wallace
July 30, 2018 12:57 pm

Six residents … have been destroyed

Dave Dodd
Reply to  Lance Wallace
July 30, 2018 1:15 pm

residences ??

Jon Salmi
Reply to  Dave Dodd
July 30, 2018 3:17 pm

Six people have died in the fire.

jimH in CA
Reply to  Jon Salmi
July 30, 2018 3:46 pm

3 people were killed by the fire. 2 died operating heavy equipment and 1 died from a tree falling on him.
Most of us know the risks and prepare our fire safe spaces.

Steve Reddish
Reply to  Lance Wallace
July 30, 2018 1:22 pm



jimH in CA
Reply to  Lance Wallace
July 30, 2018 3:54 pm

3 were in Redding. I don’t know where the other 3 lived.

Rod Everson
Reply to  Lance Wallace
July 31, 2018 6:33 am

Moderator: Mr. Wallace was trying to point out a typo in the third paragraph from the end of the article (beginning with “The River fire…”). The word “residents” should, I assume, be “residences” but his comment has now evolved into a discussion of the deaths in the Carr fire. It would be best to correct it.

TC in the OC
July 30, 2018 1:14 pm

It has been a tough fire season so far and it is still early.

Just remember that it can get worse…much worse.

When I lived in Montana as a young buy I can remember the stories that were told of the fire season in 1910 and the great fire that occurred.

The link is a Forest Service PDF of the fire and it’s aftermath,

If similar conditions occurred again I am certain the death toll would be so much greater than the 86 who perished in a very sparsely populated area at the time . 3.000.000 acres burned in a very short time period…that is 4,687.5 square miles!


July 30, 2018 1:54 pm

“Six residents [sic] and one outbuilding …”.


Svend Ferdinandsen
July 30, 2018 2:16 pm

I just wonder why the particles from these fires are not used to calculate premature death.
You only hear that fire stoves and cars gives these deaths.

Brooks Hurd
July 30, 2018 3:47 pm

Friday and Saturday, we were in Ukiah. The smoke from the River Fire grew larger all day Saturday in the first canyon to the east of 101. Saturday evening, Mendocino, Lake and half of Sonoma counties lost power due to the fires.

July 30, 2018 3:52 pm

I don’t have any idea what the answer to this question would be. If you take all the carbohydrates (trees, shrubs, manzanita, scrub oak, grass, etc.) that have burned and been converted into carbon dioxide, water, particulate soot and other polluting gases, how does all of this compare to the “carbon pollution” that the scientific imbecile environazis like to whine about that are saved by windmills, solar panels, Prius (Pious), Teslas, etc? Just a guess, but I’ll bet that all of California’s crazy enviro regulations have been enormously overwhelmed by the Carr and other fires. In other words, a total crazy waste of money and just a pain in the patootie.

jimH in CA
Reply to  Allencic
July 30, 2018 4:13 pm

Here in the Sierra foothills the, pasture grasses yield about 2 tons of dry matter per acre. So convert 85,000 acres of that to CO2 and wv…[?]

July 30, 2018 5:44 pm

It’s always been hot and tinder dry in Ca in the summer. The radio announcers in Modesto act like the world is coming to an end when it hits 100. I don’t get it😆
With the drought and all the fuel that has built up and idiots doing idiot things in high fire areas…. you ain’t seen nothing yet! This is just a prequel.

Joh Galt III
July 30, 2018 6:05 pm

Cut the damn trees

July 30, 2018 10:02 pm

Why dont they buy a handful of those Canadairs they have all round the med. The sooner the fire is put out the smaller it is. Between Italy, Spain, France and Portugal (and they all go to help each other out) there must be 30 or so of these planes.

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