Paradise lost


NASA satellite image shows the appalling extent of California’s fatal Camp Fire.


NASA's ARIA team produced this map of damage to Paradise, California, from the Camp Fire.

NASA's ARIA team produced this map of damage to Paradise, California, from the Camp Fire.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

With heavy rain complicating the battle to contain the Camp Fire – by far the most destructive blaze in the history of California – the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena has released its latest aerial image showing its devastating spread.

At the time of writing, the fire had scorched an area of 61,100 hectares and destroyed more than 14,000 structures. At least 77 people have died, and almost 1300 remain missing.

NASA’s new picture, which shows the state of the fire on November 16, was made using radar images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites operated by the European Space Agency. It includes an inset showing damage to the town of Paradise.

All up, the image inside the red outlines shows an area of 78 by 77 kilometres.

The Copernicus data were compared to pre-Camp images taken by the state’s fire service to assess the changes to terrain caused by the blaze. Those changes are depicted in yellow and red, with the latter denoting the most severe alterations.

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