A massive plume of smoke from a large fire event dominates this image of Victoria, Australia acquired on January 24, 2005. This raging brushfire is still occurring in and around Grampians National Park, west of Melbourne. As of January 26, 2006, some 700 firefighters on the ground supported by a dozen or more aircraft were unable to contain the blaze as their efforts were being hampered by heat and high winds – with gusts upwards of 50 kilometers per hour (30 miles per hour)- that are projected to strengthen as anticipated thunderstorms begin. To date, the fire has consumed over 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres) and destroyed over 20 homes. According to the State of Victoria’s Department of Sustainability and Environment, fire is a naturally occurring and frequent event on public land; lightning strikes account for about 25% of all fire events in this area. The remaining occurrences are anthropogenic (both intentional and accidental), caused by campfires, agricultural burns, sparks from automobile engines and machinery (such as chainsaws), and arson.
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