Satellite images show how the Camp Fire destroyed entire towns and killed dozens of people

Satellite images show how the Camp Fire destroyed entire towns and killed dozens of people

camp fire california satellite image nasa 8nov2018

NASA Earth Observatory

A satellite view of Paradise, California, on November 8, 2018.

  • The Camp Fire is now the most destructive and deadliest California wildfire in the state's history.
  • It scorched the entire town of Paradise, which was home to about 27,000 people.
  • Satellites orbiting the Earth took pictures of Paradise and the nearby town of Magalia before the fire hit and while the area burned.

Paradise used to be a small town in the foothills of California's Sierra Nevada mountains with a population of about 27,000 people. That is, until Friday.

Within about 24 hours after the Camp Fire broke out, practically all of Paradise had burned to the ground, along with much of a nearby town called Magalia.


Below are two satellite views of Paradise and Magalia, where about 11,000 people were living. The towns are located about 100 miles north of Sacramento (California's capital city). The northern flank of Paradise is shown on the bottom-left of each picture, and Magalia at the center.

The first image, in which everything appears normal, was taken by the commercial satellite imaging company DigitalGlobe on September 10. The second picture was taken from space on Friday, right as the Camp Fire was tearing through the region. (Click and drag the slide bar up and down to compare the two photos.)



"We started with nothing once, and we can do it again," Paradise resident Eleanor Southwick, 78, told INSIDER's Kelly McLaughlin on Friday. "We still have our family and friends and that's the thing that's important."

Some who lived in the area hope to return and rebuild, but other families have not been so lucky.

So far the wildfire has killed at least 42 people, some of them inside or near cars as they tried to flee. 


paradise california camp fire wildfire burned cars road stephen lam reuters 2018 11 09T221308Z_851036266_RC1741A3FA90_RTRMADP_3_CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES.JPG

Stephen Lam/Reuters

The Camp Fire left behind burned cars on the side of a road in Paradise, California.

The sheriff's office in Butte County (in which Magalia and Paradise are located) reportedly estimated on Monday that 228 people from the area are still missing.

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Sharon Bernstein/Reuters

A burned car in Paradise, California.

The Camp Fire began mid-week as a relatively small dozen-acre blaze. But 50 mph gusts of wind in unseasonably warm, dry weather blew its hot embers far and wide. At one point, the fire was expanding at a rate of about 80 football fields per minute.

By Tuesday morning, the wildfire had gobbled up more than 125,000 acres of land, more than 6,500 homes, and 260 businesses.

paradise california camp fire wildfire burned homes trees stephen lam reuters 2018 11 12T012636Z_1346440195_RC1751235E10_RTRMADP_3_CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES.JPG

Stephen Lam/Reuters

Wreckage from the Camp Fire in Paradise, California.

This makes the Camp Fire the most destructive and most deadly wildfire California's recorded history.