Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a satellite view of the Marshall fire, which ultimately became the most destructive fire in the history of the state of Colorado.
On December 30, 2021, ferocious winds from the Rocky Mountains triggered brush fires in south Boulder. With wind gusts reaching up to 115 miles per hour, the fire stormed east into the towns of Superior and Louisville, where it exploded into an “urban firestorm.”
Climate scientist Daniel Swain, who lives in Boulder, said that the urban firestorm is much more terrifying than a wildfire.
“It wasn’t a wildfire in the forest, it was a suburban and urban fire. The Costco we all shop at, the Target we buy our kids’ clothes at – all damaged,” Swain told New York Magazine.
The hurricane force winds carried embers for eight straight hours. Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said the Marshall fire was consuming football field lengths of land in seconds. Nearly 1,100 houses were damaged or demolished, and thousands of people were displaced.
The image was captured a few hours after the fire started on December 30 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. At this time, the fire was about 60 miles long across Colorado’s eastern plains.
According to NASA, four of the top five largest wildfires on record in Colorado occurred between 2018 and 2021.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory