May 20, 2014 - Skunk Fire, Arizona

Skunk Fire, Arizona

A lightning strike in dry woodlands east of Globe, Arizona on April 19, 2014 sparked a wildfire that has proven difficult to control. As of May 19, over 23,600 acres of grassland, timber (litter and understory), and juniper and oak woodlands have been consumed by the blaze, which was reported at only 30% contained on that date.

The terrain in the San Carlos Apache Reservation, where the fire is located, is very steep with boulders and topography which is difficult for firefighters to work in. According to Inciweb, burnout operations to control the flames on the northeast side of the Skunk fire has been completed, but fire continues to spread in a northwesterly direction.

High temperatures with very low humidity and gusting winds continue to hamper the firefighting efforts. The forecast for the next 24 hours is high temperatures of 78-93°F (25.5 – 33.9°C), with 2-6% humidity and winds of 10-15 mph (16-24 km/h).

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over the scene and captured this true-color image of the Skunk Fire on May 15, nearly a month after ignition. The site is marked by a very large red “hotspot”, where the thermal bands on the MODIS instrument detected high temperatures. Gray smoke rises from the fire and blows to the southwest. A black border line has been overlain on the image to mark state boundaries. Arizona is to the west and New Mexico to the east.

Two other smaller hotspots are seen west of the Skunk Fire. Since April 1, Inciweb reported ten blazes in Arizona, including the Skunk Fire. Nine were wildfires and one was a prescribed burn in Kaibab National Forest. Five of those blazes remain active.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 5/15/2014
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC