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Terra captures Alaskan wildfires

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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IMAGE: This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite on August 06, 2015. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS's thermal bands, are... view more

Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption: NASA/Goddard, Lynn Jenner with information from Alaska Wildland Fire Information website.

The 2015 Alaska fire season reached another milestone Friday by surpassing the 5-million-mark in the number of acres burned so far this season. According to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center's daily situation report released on Friday August 7, a total of 743 fires have burned 5,013,053.4 acres to date. That total ranks the 2015 fire season No. 3 on the list of the largest fire seasons on record. The only two seasons with larger acreage totals at this point are 1957 at 5,049,661 acres and 2004 with 6,590,140 acres.

The top grouping of fires (in the image) broke out around Hughes, Alaska. The village of Hughes has seen very little relief at all this season. Firefighting crews have worked hard to protect the village from the 133,125-acre Rock Fire that started June 19 and is burning just outside of town on the same side of the Koyukuk River as the village. Across the Koyukuk, is the 124,950-acre Isahultila Fire that started on June 21 and has most recently been joined by the Bakatigikh Fire, another lightning-caused fire that started on July 24 and is working its way down Hughes Creek to again threaten the village.

The bottom group of fires (in the image) is known as the Middle Yukon/Ruby Area Fires. The following fires are now being reported in the daily Incident Status Summary (ICS-209) as "Ruby Area Fires": Bruno Creek Fire#479 (15,302 acres), Trail Creek Fire #599 (31,699 acres), and Big Creek Two Fire #533 (332,669) acres. The following fires are in monitor status: Ruby Slough Fire #423 (49 acres), Eldorado Fire #576 (6 acres), Little Moose Fire #411 (4,835 acres), Melozitna 2 Fire #419 (3,357 acres), and the Gentian Fire #519 (19,692 acres).

The fires above and other make up the 421,613 acres that have been burned because of this fire complex and eight smokejumpers were dispatched due to an increase in fire activity, however, smoke on Friday (8/7) continued to hindered visibility and hampered the smokejumper's efforts to assess threats. Smokejumpers will continue to protect primary residences and develop strategies for point protection of values at risk.

This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite on August 06, 2015. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS's thermal bands, are outlined in red. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption: NASA/Goddard, Lynn Jenner with information from Alaska Wildland Fire Information website.

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