The summer wildfire season in the western United States continued in blazing force in late summer, 2013, with approximately forty large fires burning across Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico on August 14. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard NASA’s Terra satellite passed over the center of this region, and captured this true-color image of a few of the current fires.
The most notable fires include the Pony Complex fire (west) and, to the east, the Beaver Creek Fire. The Pony Complex began from lightning strike on August 8, and consumed 149,384 acres before being fire fighters brought it to 100% containment on August 19. The Beaver Creek Fire was ignited on August 8, also by lightning strike, and as of August 21 was 30% contained, with 108,004 acres of timber, grass and sagebrush burned.
In northern California, the trio of largest fires include, from south to north, the Corral Complex fire, the Orleans Complex fire and the Salmon River Complex fire. The Corral Complex fire was ignited by lightning strike on August 10 in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. It has burned 8,646 acres in extreme terrain, much of it greater than 4,000 feet in elevation. The Orleans Complex fire began on July 29, and the cause is under investigation. As of August 21, it is 30% contained and has destroyed 18,938 acres. The Salmon River Complex started from human activity on July 31. It has consumed 14,335 acres, and managers have achieved 95% containment.
The National Weather Service issued Red Flag warnings for much of California, Oregon and Idaho on August 21, due to the potential for scattered thunderstorms with possible heavy lighting and gusty outflow winds across the region. While heavy rains could dampen fire potential, any potential rainfall likely is offset by the effect of lightning and wind on critically dry fuel.