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August 26, 2016

Landsat 8 shows the progression of one of the biggest wildfire in California yet this year...

EarthViews is a continuing series in which we share a USGS Image of the Week featuring the USGS/NASA Landsat program. From the artistry of Earth imagery to natural and human-caused land change over time, check back every Friday to finish your week with a visual flourish!

Landsat 8's August 14 pass over central California after the outbreak of the fire. Credit: USGS/NASA Landsat Program.

The EarthView: Landsat Shows Spread of Soberanes Fire


A wildfire near Soberanes Creek along the Pacific coast of California started July 22, 2016, and spread to over 86,000 acres one month later.

Landsat 8's July 29 pass over central California shortly after the outbreak of the fire. Credit: USGS/NASA Landsat Program.

California Department of Forest and Fire Protection officials say the blaze began after an illegal campfire was abandoned. By mid-August, it had destroyed 57 homes and was threatening 410 more structures in an area hugging the coast northwest of Big Sur.

Landsat images from July 13, July 29, and August 14 show the dramatic progression as active fire burns orange in the latter two scenes, and smoke appears as a blue haze. Landsat 8's Operational Land Imager sensor using shortwave infrared, near infrared, and red spectral bands reveals the growing red burn scar from a fire that was only 60 percent contained by mid-August.

Landsat 8's July 13 pass over central California prior to the outbreak of the fire. Credit: USGS/NASA Landsat Program.

The Soberanes Fire is one of the largest blazes in California's 2016 fire season, with more than 4,100 firefighters battling it at various times.

Hungry for some science, but you don’t have time for a full-course research plate? Then check out USGS Science Snippets, our snack-sized science series that focuses on the fun, weird, and fascinating stories of USGS science.

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