On August 29, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over California and captured this true-color image of the Rim Fire burning in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park. Red hotspots, which mark sites where thermal sensors on the instrument detected temperatures higher than background, ring the perimeter of the fire zone. Heavy smoke pours from these hotspots, indicating they are actively burning fires. Inside the ring of fire, the dark color indicates charred vegetation.
The Rim Fire began on August 17, at a time when no lightning was present. The cause of the fire is presumably human activity, and is under investigation.
As of September 2, the Rim Fire has consumed 228,670 acres and destroyed 111 structures – 11 residences, 97 outbuildings, and 6 commercial structures. 5,506 additional structures are threatened – 4,500 residences, 1,000 outbuildings and 6 commercial, and the protection of lives and structures are primary concerns of fire suppression efforts. The Rim Fire is now the fourth largest fire in California history.
On the evening on September 1, firefighters made excellent progress, and were able to move from 45% containment on September 1 to 60% containment on September 2. Higher humidity levels and cooler temperatures aided this effort. However, dry weather and warmer temperatures are expected over the next several days, and the terrain in which the fire burns is considered “extreme”, so a high risk of fire growth remains.