Massive wildfire still raging near Palm Springs, California

Massive wildfire still raging near Palm Springs, California

A wildfire that broke out in a remote part of the Los Padres National Forest, California (US), on July 15 is still spreading. Evacuations have started on the first day as flames consumed over 500 acres of trees and brush within several hours. Air tankers and helicopters along with hundreds of ground firefighters were immediately deployed.

By Friday, an enormous plume of smoke could be seen from Palm Springs and by Sunday the fire consumed about 28 000 acres (out of 1.9 million) and caused an estimated damage of $10.9 million.

Dicey weather conditions are expected to cause the fire to burn more aggressively and increase already significant smoke column. This kind of smoke columns are often capable of creating unstable weather conditions including thunderstorms, lightning and erratic winds.

About 6 000 people have been evacuated so far. More than 3 500 firefighters are on the scene and will remain there if weather conditions allow.

Though the cause of the fire remains under investigation authorities say it was "human-caused".

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

On July 18, 2013, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of the Mountain fire burning through chaparral in southern California near Palm Springs. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fire.

The fire started July 15, 2013. By July 18, it had burned nearly 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares), forcing the evacuation of thousands of people and destroying at least seven homes. The lower image, a photograph taken by a U.S. Forest Service employee, shows the fire as seen from California State Route 74 on July 17.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, as of July 18, 2013, a total of 2,108,829 acres (853,413 hectares) had burned during the 2013 wildfire season in the United States. Over the past ten years, the average number of U.S. acres burned by mid-July was 3,577,060 acres (1,447,585 hectares).

Palm Springs fire photo album

Featured image credit: yvonneandang 

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