NASA has published an image of the incredible burn scar left behind by the massive King Fire in California. The King Fire is now the second costliest and second largest blaze in California this year, and the weather is not helping matters.
The false-color satellite imagery, which was captured by the Operational Land Imager on NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite, shows the area that the wildfire has burned in red. Unimpacted vegetation appears green, while smoke is shown in a blue haze.
Also of note in the image are the two reservoirs to the north of the King Fire. The Hell Hole Reservoir is the closest to the fire, which appears to be encroaching around the lakes southwest banks. The French Meadows Reservoir is just to the north of that. If you enlarge the image, you can see how low these reservoirs are with their brown banks, drained by the incredible, ongoing California drought.
The King Fire, which is burning in El Dorado County, Calif. just west of Lake Tahoe, has scorched over 95,000 acres since it was ignited by arson on September 13. It is 43 percent contained as of Thursday morning, in part due to a break in weather conditions overnight that allowed firefighters to get a better handle on the blaze.
The fire has cost more than $53 million, ranking behind the $86 million spent to battle the Happy Camp fire in far northern California — a large fire that firefighters have mostly contained as of this week.
12,000 residencies and 9,000 other minor structures are threatened by the King Fire. Twelve residencies and 56 minor structures have already been destroyed, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Unfortunately, the weather on Thursday is not cooperating with firefighters who are trying to battle the blaze. A trough of low pressure is moving into the western U.S. this week, and while it’s bringing some rainfall, it’s also packing gusty winds. A lake wind advisory is in effect for Lake Tahoe through 8 p.m. PT Thursday, with the potential for gusts up to 35 mph.
Winds will become more favorable for firefighting overnight on Thursday. While rain of less than an inch is in the forecast, there is a potential for lightning in thunderstorms, which could act to start new blazes.