The Rim fire in central-east California started on August 17th and over the past 9 days has quickly spread to over 150,000 acres as evident in the fire progression map.  SNPP VIIRS was overhead around 1:30 local time yesterday, August 25th, and clearly captured the detected the fires associated with the Rim fire, as well as those from other incidents such as the Fish, Windy Peak, American, and Deer fires.  The images demonstrate how VIIRS captures the direction of fire activity both through the location of detections and the corresponding smoke plum.  The last image is a false-color RGB created from the higher resolution (375m) imaging bands (I-band) along with detections (red pixels) generated from an experimental algorithm designed for the VIIRS I-bands.

The West Fork Complex continues to grow, mostly to the north and northeast.  The southern portion rate of spread has slowed despite ridge-top gusts exceeding 30+ mph, and, according to the Incident Meteorologist (IMET) Mark Loeffelbein, at least gust one recorded at 60+ mph.

The VIIRS AF team has a member visiting the West Fork Complex to meet with incident team members such as the IMETs, Fire Behavior Analysts (FBANs), GIS analysts, and other fire incident decision support cadre.

In the top image, several fires can easily be seen from Colorado to Mexico.  The 2nd image from top is zoomed in on the Colorado-New Mexico border and clearly shows the West Fork Complex in the center of the scene.  The Complex is now made up of 3 fires: the Papoose (the cluster of fire pixels in upper left portion of the complex); the West Fork (lower right); and the Windy Pass (which has just two detections nearly adjacent and to the lower right of the West Fork cluster).  Additional fires in the image include the Ox Cart to the northwest of the West Fork Complex (9 miles south of Salida) and the Jaroso fire to the southeast, in New Mexico.  The third image highlights the I-band false color composite quicklook of the same overpass and demonstrates the increased detail provided by the 350m resolution Imagery bands, including a few hot spots not seen in the Moderate band resolution image (top).  Finally, a few pictures of the smoke plume from fire activity north of Route 160 east of Pagosa Springs.

Fire activity is picking up out West.  The top two images highlight yesterday’s fire detections by VIIRS.  The top image is a RGB (Moderate resolution bands 5-4-3, respectively) centered on the southwest U.S. while the next image highlights the named fires across Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.  Several new fires erupted over recent days, such as the Doce fire near Prescott, AZ, a human-caused fire which started June 18th (Tuesday) and is nearing 8,000 acres as of yesterday (19th).  Fire behavior was described as “very active with running, spotting and torching. The fire moved easily through broken fuels.” [Source: InciWeb]

Warm temperatures and high winds in some locations have fueled fire activity.  The third image would suggest that fire activity will likely continue as a widespread Red Flag warning is in effect [Source: USFS RSAC].  The bottom image is a screen capture from the VIIRS active fire webpage data portal showing fire information and weather along with detections.  Despite relatively cool temperatures this morning many incidents will see temperatures pushing into the 90s today (e.g. Silver fire).

Fires across the southwest can be seen in the top VIIRS image from June 12th, 2015 UTC.  The scene is a RGB composite using the moderate resolution (750m) bands; M5, M4, M3, respectively.  Active fire detections are displayed as red pixels.  The Silver fire in New Mexico, near the center of this image, is obvious with a large column of smoke being produced.  Additional fire activity to the north in New Mexico (Thompson Ridge) and Colorado (Black Forest and Royal Gorge fires) is also quite clear.

Densely scattered fires were observed by S-NPP VIIRS and Aqua MODIS on November 12, 2012 at approximately 0800 UTC (1330 local time) over the Punjab region.  This area is one of primarily agriculture land use-land cover and thus these fires are likely related to seasonal burning of crop residues from Rice harvests (see Vadrevu et al., 2011).  As can be seen in the comparison grid plot VIIRS detected many more fires, in some cases nearly double.  This is likely a function of scan angle as VIIRS observed these fires near nadir and the average MODIS detection was observed at a scan angle of 34°.

Nearly ten fire complexes are currently burning in Idaho and on September 9th both Suomi-NPP VIIRS and Aqua-MODIS detected numerous hot spots.  Given the close timing in overpass (Aqua was only 20 minutes behind S-NPP) and similar viewing angle, the agreement in detections is quite good, as evident in the grid plot.

  Fires from California to Wyoming continue to burn across the western U.S. states.  In the above images, Suomi NPP VIIRS detected fires in California, Oregon, Nevada, and Idaho, approximately 55 minutes before Aqua-MODIS detected the same ones.  Despite nearly an hour difference in overpass time, the agreement in fires detected is fairly good, as evident in the grid plot.  However, while VIIRS detected more fires in Idaho, MODIS detected more in California, Oregon, and Nevada; the discrepancy is clearly a function of the VIIRS’ off-nadir scan angle in these states. 

  The larger fires in California observed in the images include the Fort Complex, Bagley, North Pass, Chips, and Rush. In Oregon, the Waterfalls 2 fire can be seen near the top-left portion of the image.  And to the east, in Idaho, the Trinity Ridge and Halstead fires can easily be seen.

The High Park fire in Colorado, just west of Fort Collins, fire started in early June due to a lightning strike ( and took off June 9th because of high winds and low humidity.  VIIRS got it’s first good observation on June 11th and by June 22nd the NIFC incident report stated the burnt area was up to 68,200 acres.

 The following images show a comparison of VIIRS and Aqua active fire detections on June 18th within a 5x5 degree window centered near the High Park.

A MODIS - VIIRS comparison of the Whitewater-Baldy Fire complex in New Mexico from May 25th, 2012.  NPP VIIRS was overhead at approximately 1955 UTC while Aqua observed the same fire about 20 minutes later.  The grid plot shows the strong agreement in the number of detections made by both sensors.