- 9 Photos
- Each dot in this map represents a fire that occurred this year. Take a second to count them. Done? Satellites have detected 346,000 fires into 2011, although that might be an overestimate because some are counted twice. The National Climactic Data Center believes the number is more like 33,109. (Photo: NOAA/NASA/NOAA, NASA, Associated Press, Etc.)
The Wallow Fire in Arizona is creeping up on a dreadful milestone of 500,000 acres (760 square miles) burned. That's larger than any other fire in state history. Firefighters are swarming into the state from all points east, west, and north to try to stop the blaze from spreading far into New Mexico. Investigators say the fire is human caused, although the exact catalyst is yet unknown.
The massive extent of this historic fire is coldly detailed in images that NASA and NOAA satellites have been sending down to earth. The CALIPSO lidar probe shows that smoke has drifted 3 miles into the atmosphere, while the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite reveals a giant brown burn scar where vegetation used to thrive. Meanwhile, photographers wander over the eye-stinging Arizona hellscape to capture the terrifying sight of a national forest being vaporized. The blaze as of June 16 was only 29 percent contained.
Visit the photo gallery after the jump, or here, for incendiary images from the Wallow Fire and elsewhere. And don't be fooled by this video of a fire tornado spinning in Arizona; it's a fake.