Multiple fires burned across the Mississippi Valley in mid-March, 2013. According to the Southern Area Coordination Center, the agency that monitors incidents across the Southeast, eight “large” fires continued to consume land in the region on March 17, 2014. A “large” fire is defined as a wildfire of 100 acres or more occurring in timber, or a wildfire of 300 acres or more in grass or sage. Six of the large fires were in eastern Oklahoma, one in southern Louisiana and one in southern Mississippi. The cost of these specific fires was reported as nearly $200,000 on that date.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on March 13 as it passed over the region. According to the NASA Fire and Smoke website, many of the smaller fires speckling the landscape in this image are prescribed fires – fires which are pre-planned and deliberately set by a team of experts to safely reduce excessive amounts of grass and brush. Plants and animals in pine habitats, especially, depend on natural fire cycles – and prescribed burns mimic these cycles without the potential widespread destruction of hotter, larger fires of unplanned, uncontrolled burns of wildfire.