Incredible satellite photos of Southern California's wildfires show the disaster's evolution from space
California's latest group of blazes began with the Thomas fire in Ventura County on December 4. Since then, at least six other large fires sparked across the Southern California counties of Los Angeles (Creek, Rye, and Skirball fires), San Bernardino (Little Mountain fire), San Diego (Lilac fire), and Riverside (Liberty fire).
The Thomas fire in Ventura County is by far the largest at more than 230,000 acres in size, and it's only about 15% contained as of Monday morning. It continues to burn along with four other fires that are spreading due to strong Santa Ana winds, which peak during December and January.The new blazes have triggered the evacuation of almost 100,000 people, killed at least one person, razed some 1,000 buildings, and scorched more than 250,000 acres of land. This ongoing disaster in Southern California also joins the deadly wildfires across Northern California in October that killed 42 people, destroyed 9,000 structures, and may take the state years to recover from.
Thick smoke and intense heat make it difficult for low-flying aircraft to capture the extent of a wildfire's damage. However, a few satellites with high-power cameras and special sensors offer unique and detailed views of the evolving disaster from space.
Here's what they've recorded so far, plus a few incredible images taken by astronauts in space: