The Pacific Northwest has been inundated with wildfires most stemming from lightning strikes during summer storms. Four of these wildfires can be seen in this natural-color Aqua satellite image collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument aboard. This image was taken on August 11, 2014. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS's thermal bands, are outlined in red.
The Upper Falls wildfire was started by a lightning strike on August 03. It is located 17 Miles North of Winthrop WA, 37 miles Northwest of Omak, WA and has grown to 7,100 acres with 449 personnel fighting the blaze. A red flag warning has been issued for this fire from 12pm today through 5 PM Wednesday. Dry and unstable conditions followed by thunderstorms with abundant lightning are forecast.
The Little Bridge Creek Fire started at approximately 6:30pm on Saturday, August 2, on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, 10 miles west of Winthrop Washington. The fire was naturally caused, likely by lightning and has grown to 4,000 acres. Approximately 703 persons are in camp this morning. The fire is located in a very steep, roadless area in heavy timber with a large component of bug killed trees. No structures or infrastructure are immediately threatened. As with the Upper Falls wildfire, there is a red flag warning in place.
From the air, the Lone Mountain Fire is now a 2700-acre mosaic of rock, steep slopes, alpine meadows and burned and unburned forest. The fire began on July 14 most likely with a lightning strike. To date, firefighters continue to monitor the fire from helicopters and from the ground, calling in 300-gallon bucket-loads of water if flare-ups appear to have any chance of threatening the control points. The Lone Mountain Fire sits in a bowl ringed by mountains on three sides. It has gradually burned northward up Rennie Creek and westward down Boulder Creek. Fire fighters are on alert for hot and possibly windy weather plus lightning tonight and Tuesday. A fire weather watch has been declared.
The Duncan fire began on July 16 with a lightning strike. Over 10,400 acres have been burned to date. Two hundred sixty one personnel are currently fighting this blaze. The Duncan, Shoofly, Hansel Creek, and Chiwaukum fires may all see growth today and smoke columns may form in the afternoon. Duncan Fire crews continue to strengthen control lines along Shady Pass Road. The fire will likely see increased activity today, assisted by the anticipated Red Flag Warning conditions.
Brief but intense showers are possible but will do little to moderate longer term fire conditions. Historically, autumn rains have arrived about October 15, extinguishing any lingering smokes in the North Cascades.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC.