VIIRS fire detections

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor was launched aboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite on October 28th, 2011 and on January 18th, 2012 cooler doors for the thermal sensor were opened. Within hours data were being retrieved and fire detections produced. The 5 minute swath quicklooks presented here highlight recent fire detections superimposed on RGB images (bands 5-4-3). The VIIRS active fire product was released to the public on October 22nd, 2012 as beta quality back to April 2nd, 2012. On October 23rd, 2013 VIIRS AF data were declared provisional back to October 16th, 2012. Please refer to the FAQ page to read the definitions of beta and provisional data.

  • Colby fire, CA: January 16th, 2014


    The Colby fire started early on the morning of January 16th on the outskirts of Glendora, California. VIIRS captured a clear observtion of the fire at approximately 12:30pm, local time. In the RGB image below, created from the moderate resolution (M-band, 750m) 5-4-3 channels, a smoke plume can be seen drifting West over the Los Angeles metro area. As of January 19th the fire had burned 1900 acres and destroyed 6 homes. Investigators have arrested 3 men suspected with starting an illegal campfire which escaped and caused the conflagration.

  • Still going - the Rim fire: September 9th, 2013


    Started on August 17th, the Rim fire has now burned more than 250,000 acres (>100 ha) and cost over $100 million. Firefighters made great progress over the past several weeks to bring the fire to 80% containment, but hot, dry conditions over the past number of days have resulted in something of a stalemate to increasing containment. Conditions yesterday, September 9th, were ripe for fire activity, including upslope drafts, low humidity, high temperatures, and an unstable atmosphere. The above VIIRS image (around 1pm local time) shows detections and related smoke plumes from the Rim fire, as well as the Morgan fire outside San Francisco and the Clover fire near Happy Valley. These two newer fires have also been active, owing to the same weather and fuel conditions and rapid growth has been observed (for example the Morgan fire doubled in a day).

  • More fires across the Southwest: June 19th, 2013


    As some fires are contained new ones pop up and several older fires increase in size. Nearly 600 firefighters are battling the Doce fire in the Prescott National Forest, Arizona, which started Tuesday, June 18th and has burned about 7,500 acres so far. The Silver fire in New Mexico, which in this image can be seen as the southern of two fires with a large column of smoke eminating from it, had a 22% increase in fire growth yesterday to over 30,000 acres. The West Fort Complex near Pagosa Springs, Colorado, is the northern of two fires with a large column of smoke obvious in this image. Made up of two fires which joined June 16th, the West Fork and Windy Pass, this complex is burning in rugged terrain and was nearing 9,000 acres yesterday, a 155% increase from the previous day. Another Arizona fire is the smaller Creek firein the southeastern portion of the state.

  • Southwest fires, United States: June 10th, 2013


    Fires continue to burn in the Southwest states of New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The VIIRS image above (from 2057 UTC) captured numerous hotspots including several relatively new fires such as the Fourmile fire in Southeast Arizona, the Hathaway fire in Southern California, and the Silver fire in New Mexico (near Santa Fe).

  • Southwest fires, United States: June 2nd, 2013


    Several fire complexes can be seen in this VIIRS image from June 2nd at 2005 UTC. In the upper left is the Powerhouse fire north of Los Angles which started May 30th and quickly spread to over 32,000 acres by June 5th. Just to the northwest the smaller Branch fire was detected. In northern New Mexico two Type 2 fires were observed; the Thompson Ridge and to the east the the Tres Lagunas. As of June 5th, these fires had burned approximately 7,400 and 9,000 acres, respectively.

  • Gulf Coast fires, SE United States: May 14th, 2013


    Fires were observed by VIIRS on May 14th at 1920 UTC, stretching from the panhandle of Florida, along the Gulf coast into Louisiana and Texas, and north to the Great Lakes. Several smoke plumes are quite obvious, including a few originating from fires just south of Tallahassee and clearly extending over the Gulf of Mexico .

  • Springs fire, California: May 3rd, 2013


    A clear observation of the Springs fire, near Camarillo Spings, CA, was made by VIIRS on May 3rd around 2110 UTC. The fire started early on the 2nd and as of the early hours on May 4th it has already burned over 28 thousand acres.

  • Northwest fires: September 19th, 2012


    In a summer that has seen near record fire activity no western state has gone unburned. In this VIIRS image, observed around 1pm local time, fires from Washington to Idaho are clearly present. In particular, the large Table Mountain complex in Washington is evident by the huge smoke plume drifting east from the fire. The Trinity Complex and other fire incidents are clear to the east in Idaho as well.

  • California and Oregon fires: July 9th, 2012


    Several large fire complexes can be seen in top-center of this VIIRS 5-minute swath, observed at approximately 1300 local time on July 9th. The Mill Fire, on the Mendocino National Forest in California, has grown rapidly in recent days due to hot, dry conditions. As of July 10th, it had burnt nearly 13,000 acres and was 60% contained. To the northeast of the Mill Fire is a large cluster of fire detections associated with the Long Draw fire near Basque, Oregon. Started by lightning on July 8th, the fire (as of July 10th) has already consumed 290,000 acres and currently is listed with a 0% containment status. Finally, to the northwest, a smaller fire complex in Oregon (45,000 acres), the Miller Homestead fire, was also detected by VIIRS.

  • Rocky Mountain fires: June 26th, 2012


    Numerous fires are burning across the Mountain States of the U.S., including the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado near the center of this VIIRS swath. Fires in Utah and Wyoming can also easily be spotted in this image.

  • Brazil fires: June 15th, 2012


    Fires in eastern Brazil can be seen in the lower right corner of this 5 minute VIIRS swath. Fires were detected around 1630 UTC in the Brazilian states of Maranhao, Tocantins, and Piauí.

  • Southewest United States fires: June 9th, 2012


    Large, wind-driven fire complexes continue to grow in the SW United States. New Mexico, in particular, has 4 large fires with two categorized as "type 1" incidents; the most robust category, calling state and national-level resources and expertise. The Whitewater-Baldy fire in western New Mexico has already set a state record for burned area (278,039 acres as of June 11th) and can be recognized by the circular distribution of fire pixels near the center of the swath. To the east, with a large plume of smoke extending into Texas, is the IMT1 Little Bear fire. The only other current IMT1 fire in the U.S. can be near the top of this image, the High Park fire, burning in northern Colorado.

  • Southern Africa fires: June 8th, 2012


    Fires routinely burn across central-southern Africa this time of year as evident by the number of detections made by NPP VIIRS in this 5 minute swath. Fires, typically used for renewing pasture growth, removing crop residue, and driving pests, and game, is tightly coupled between humans and the savanna ecology. The fire season will continue to grow in fire frequency while shifting east and south, peaking between late-July and mid-September before shifting Northern Africa.

  • Sumatra fires: June 4th, 2012


    NPP Suomi was over Sumatra at approximately 0630 UTC and detected a number of fires across the island, as well as in Peninsular Malaysia. A particularly dense pocket of fire activity can be seen in the northwestern portion of Sumatra.

  • China fires: June 1st, 2012


    A cluster of fires burning north of the Chinese city of Chengdu can be spotted near the center of this VIIRS swath.

  • New Mexico fires: May 25th, 2012


    The large New Mexico fire complex, referred to as the Whitewater-Baldy fire, was observed by VIIRS at 2017 UTC on May 25th. As of June 1st, the fire had burned 197,333 acres.

  • Punjab fires: May 15th, 2012


    A dense cluster of fires occurring in the Punjab region of Pakistan and India was detected by VIIRS around 0755 UTC. The Punjab region is a highly productive agricultural area of Asia, as well as the world, and thus it could be assumed, given the time of year, these fires are associated with farming, and wheat harvest in particular (see Vadrevu et al., 2011).

  • Australia Northern Territory fires: May 15th, 2012


    Numerous fires occurring in Kakadu National Park, Litchfield NP, Nitmiluk NP, Mary River NP, Arnhem Land, and surrounding areas of Darwin, as well as near the Arafura Sea coast, were detected by VIIRS at approximately 1350 local time.

  • Madagascar fires: May 11th, 2012


    Around 1340 local time VIIRS was passing over Madagascar and observed fires spanning nearly the length of this island country .

  • Bolivia fires: May 10th, 2012


    VIIRS detected a number of fires stretching across Boliva from the southeast to northwest around 1745 UTC.

  • Brazil fires: May 3rd, 2012


    Fires scattered across the Brazilian states of Tocantins, Mato Grosso, Bahia, and Goiás were detected by VIIRS around 1635 UTC.

  • West Africa fires: May 1st, 2012


    Fires are clustered near the Atlantic coast of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. A large dust plume is also easily seen extending out over the ocean in this 5 minute swath, observed at 1355 UTC.

  • Asia fires: April 27th, 2012


    Multiple fire clusters were detected by VIIRS at 0650 UTC across portions of South and Southeast Asia. Fires were observed across this 5 minute swath, from India and Nepal in the northwest to Vietnam, Mynamar, and Laos in the southeast.

  • Fires in Russia and Kazakhstan: April 25th, 2012


    VIIRS spotted many fires along the Russian-Kazakhstan border (eastern portion of the swath) at around 0920 UTC. Although purely anecdotal, there appears (visually) to be a connection between the lack of cloud cover and fire activity, with what could be described as a demarcation of clouds and fires. That said, despite cloud cover to the west, many detections are still apparent in this 5 minute swath.

  • Western Australia: April 21st, 2012


    Fires in the Western Australia territory were detected by VIIRS at 0510 UTC. Many of these fires are near or within national or conservation parks such as Tunnel Creek NP, King Leopold Ranges Conservation Park, and Rudall River NP.

  • India and Nepal fires: April 17th, 2012


    At about 0820 UTC VIIRS detected a cluster of fires in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. To the north, more fires can be seen along the border between India and Nepal, in the Tibetan foothills..

  • Central Africa fires: April 16th, 2012


    VIIRS was over central Africa around 1150 UTC and detected a dense patch of fires in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (top third of the swath along the 25th meridian).

  • Mexico fire detections: April 13th, 2012


    At approximately 1945 UTC NPP VIIRS was over Mexico and detected numerous fires occurring in the Sierra Madre Occidental and del Sur mountain ranges. In addition, fires were detected to the east along the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

  • County Line and Easter Fires: April 12th, 2012


    Multiple fires in eastern part of the United States were detected by VIIRS on April 12th, around 1225 local time. Fires in western Virginia and eastern West Virginia (bright cluster of pixels towards the middle of the swath) were collectively referred to as the Easter Complex. The County Line fire to the south, in northern Florida, is associated with the large plume of smoke drifting into the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Southeast Asia firs: April 11th, 2012


    Fires were detected arcoss the Indochina peninsula, with several large clusters of fire activity in Myanmar and Laos. VIIRS detected these fires around 0645 UTC.

  • "County Line Fire", Florida, U.S.: April 7th, 2012


    A lightning-ignited fire, started in the Pinhook Swamp of the Osceola National Forest, is clearly visible in the center of the VIIRS 5-minute swath. At last check (4/8) the fire had grown to an estimated 4570 acres (1922 ha) with a large smoke plumb drifting north into Georgia. [Note: As of 4/9 this fire complex had increased to roughly 11,000 acres].

  • Argentina Fires: April 1st, 2012


    Around 1810 UTC VIIRS made its overpass of the fires shown in this image. Detections can be seen in the center-east section of the swath in the the proximity of the Iberá wetlands.

  • Fires in Portugal and Spain: March 28th, 2012


    Fires, and associated smoke, can be seen across northern Spain and western Portugal. The fire effected region of northern Spain is in the Cantabrian Range, a 300 km (180 mile) span of mountains along the Cantabrian Sea. In addition, fires are evident to the west in Portugal with smoke extending out over the ocean.

  • Southeast U.S. fires


    The above image shows fires detected across a wide swath of central and southeastern U.S., stretching from northwest Missouri, to near the coast of South Carolina, and multiple detections across southern Georgia and Alabama