NASA satellite observes fires raging around Sydney
Posted: January 3, 2002

Image courtesy of the MODIS Land Rapid Response System
Bush fires surrounding Sydney continue to burn feverishly, and vast smoke plumes ascend from the southeastern coastline of Australia and extend out over the Tasman Sea. This true-color image from NASA's Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra spacecraft was made from data collected on January 2, 2002; active fires detected by MODIS are marked with red dots.

The southern end of Sydney's urban area is bounded by the third cluster of fires up from the bottom of the image, and the fires encircle the city, which stands out in tan against the surrounding green vegetation. Sydney is surrounded by several National Parks, many of which have been damaged by the fires. Reports indicate that the fires, which have been aided by daytime temperatures hovering around 100 degrees F and winds blowing at nearly 40 miles per hour, have burned approximately 1.24 million acres of bush land as of January 2. Currently firefighters' efforts have shifted from attempting to extinguish the fires to preventing them from reaching the western edges of Sydney. Many of the fires are believed to have been set by arsonists, and police have arrested 21 people in connection with the devastating blazes.