The devastating fires that raged across Portugal in July and August 2005 did not spare the country’s largest park their fury. In central Portugal, almost the entire range of the country’s highest mountains, the Serra da Estrela, are part of a national park, in which a rural economy of agriculture, including herding of goats and sheep, co-exists with scenic views, significant cultural and historical sites, and good examples of glacier-carved topography.
Although small fires had started and been extinguished quickly in other parts of the Serra da Estrela in June and early July, around July 19, more fires broke out in the park. These fires exploded, spreading rapidly. Residents of towns and villas in the park had to evacuate as the flames raced through drought-stressed vegetation. The results of the blazes are captured in this image from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite from August 25, 2005. Vegetation appears in shades of red, developed areas appear white, water is blue, and burned areas are deep charcoal.