Wildfires broke out on the island of Madeira, part of a Portuguese archipelago west of Morocco, on July 18, 2012. News reports said that, by July 20, fires had spread to the nearby island of Porto Santo, and firefighters sent from mainland Portugal struggled to contain multiple blazes amid high winds.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on July 19, 2012. Red outlines indicate high surface temperatures associated with actively burning fires. Thick smoke blows away from the blazes toward the southwest.
Madeira was already suffering from severe drought by July 2012, and the wildfires began burning in the midst of temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius (more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit), according to news reports. Severe fires also scorched parts of mainland Portugal.
- BBC. (2012, July 20) Portugal’s Madeira hit by forest fires. Accessed July 20, 2012.
- Reuters. (2012, July 19) Fires ravage Madeira Islands and mainland Portugal. Accessed July 20, 2012.
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This image originally appeared on the Earth Observatory. Click here to view the full, original record.