On July 2, 2014 the government of Queensland, Australia issued a request for all citizens to prepare their homes for the upcoming bushfire season, as well as a notice that Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) were actively continuing the process of lighting controlled hazard reduction burns to reduce fuel loads in many areas where risks exist. ‘Operation Cool Burn’ will see QFES along with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing, local councils and landholders undertake mitigation activities across the State to reduce fire risk in bushfire-prone areas, ahead of the season.
The fire-reduction strategy proved timely, as reports of bushfires began on July 7. Since that time, several bushfires, grass fires and forest fires have been reported across the region, especially the Cape York Peninsula.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the Cape York Peninsula on July 7 and captured this true-color image of multiple fires across the region. Red hotspots mark locations where the thermal sensors on the instrument detected temperatures higher than normal. When combined with smoke, such hotspots mark actively burning fires. These fires are likely a mix of wildfires (bushfire, grassland and forest fires) and hazard reduction burns.