Numerous wildfires raged in central Idaho when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite acquired this image on September 13, 2012. Smoke lingered within steep valleys throughout the region, and numerous thick plumes of smoke streamed east toward Montana. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.
By September 11, more than 1,529,715 acres (619,054 hectares) had burned in Idaho—more than any other state in the nation. By August 29, more than 8,392,209 acres (3,396,206 hectares) had burned throughout the United States in what has proven to be one of the most severe wildfire seasons in the last decade.
Idaho prior to European settlement was inhabited by Native American peoples, some of whom still live in the area. In the early 19th century, Idaho was considered part of the Oregon Country, an area disputed between the U.S. and the United Kingdom. It officially became U.S. territory with the signing of the Oregon Treaty of 1846, but a separate Idaho Territory was not organized until 1863, instead being included for periods in Oregon Territory and Washington Territory. Idaho was eventually admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, becoming the 43rd state.
Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Adam Voiland.