Fires and smoke in the Pacific Northwest

Fires and smoke in the Pacific Northwest
  • Credit:

    Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

A large fire in western British Columbia was spilling smoke down over the glacier-covered slopes of the Coast Range Mountains on July 28, 2004. In the deeply carved valleys between the white-capped peaks, turquoise rivers thick with finely ground glacial sediment flow out to the Pacific Ocean through the narrow gap between Vancouver Island (bottom left) and mainland Canada. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image, and the places where the sensor detected actively burning fires are outlined in red.

A thin veil of smoke from the fire drifted south to settle over much of Washington State. The densely populated Puget Sound region, the grey strip of cities including Seattle and Tacoma that runs from north to south along the black finger of the Puget Sound, does not appear to be seriously impacted. The Environmental Protection Agency rated the air quality as .moderate. on July 28, one rating down from “good” for many areas in Washington, though communities in eastern Washington warned the elderly and young children to stay indoors. Smoke began to move over the area on Monday, July 26, when winds blew smoke out of the northwest. The pattern was expected to hold for much of the week.

Images & Animations


File Dimensions

  • 650x900
  • JPEG 229 KB
  • 1300x1800
  • JPEG 801 KB
  • 2600x3600
  • JPEG 2 MB

Note: Often times, due to the size, browsers have a difficult time opening and displaying images. If you experiece an error when clicking on an image link, please try directly downloading the image (using a right click, save as method) to view it locally.


  • Data Date:

    July 28, 2004
  • Visualization Date:

    July 29, 2004
  • Sensor(s):

    Aqua - MODIS
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration