The Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs became a raging inferno and one of the most disastrous in Colorado history. New satellite imagery released by NASA shows the massive area burned by the blaze and provides perspective as to just how close it came to the state’s second largest city.
Officials are hoping to announce 100% containment of the fire later today. The blaze has burned 18,247 acres, the 11th largest in Colorado history. More notably however the blaze claimed two lives and destroyed 346 homes making it the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.
NASA’s Terra satellite flew over the burn area on July 4th and false color imaging provides a clear view of the burn area of the fire. One can easily see where the fire entered the Mountain Shadows neighborhood and how close it came to the Air Force Academy and more populous areas of Colorado Springs.
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The Waldo Canyon Fire was first reported on June 23, 2012, burning in Pike National Forest, three miles (5 kilometers) west of Colorado Springs. Fueled by extremely dry conditions and strong winds, it had burned 18,247 acres (74 square kilometers) by July 5. The blaze severely damaged or destroyed 346 homes, making it the most destructive fire in Colorado history. Mountain Shadows, a neighborhood northwest of the Colorado Springs city center, experienced some of the most severe damage. According to an analysis conducted by the Denver Post, the combined value of the homes that burned to the ground in the neighborhood was at least $110 million.
The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on the Terra satellite acquired this view of the burn scar on July 4, 2012, when the fire was still burning but was 90 percent contained. Vegetation-covered land is red in the false-color image, which includes both visible and infrared light. Patches of unburned forest are bright red, in contrast with areas where flecks of light brown indicate some burning. The darkest brown areas are the most severely burned. Buildings, roads, and other developed areas appear light gray and white. The bright red patches of vegetation near Colorado Springs are golf courses, parks, or other irrigated land.