While much of the national focus in the early summer of 2012 has been on the destructive wildfires in Colorado, as of July 3, 2012, dozens of major wildfires were burning across the western United States, including six in Montana alone, according to the interagency fire incident information system, InciWeb. On July 2, 2012, the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft passed over the Horse Creek Fire and much larger Ash Creek Fire Complex in southeastern Montana, to the east of Billings. This image is from the instrument's 60-degree forward-viewing camera. At present, the Horse Creek fire covers 6,144 acres (25 square kilometers), and the Ash Creek Complex encompasses 186,820 acres (292 square kilometers). Nearly 700 firefighters are battling these blazes.
Multiangle imagery from the MISR instrument was used to derive the heights of smoke plumes and wind speeds near the plume sources. Smoke from the Horse Creek fire extends to the southeast over 44 miles (70 kilometers), reaching a maximum altitude of 4,920 feet (1,500 meters) above the ground. The burn scar from the Ash Creek Complex can be seen as a dark spot to the west of the larger smoke plume with a diameter of nearly 25 miles (40 kilometers). The smoke for this complex extends more than 155 miles (250 kilometers) to the south, reaching a maximum height of about 11,500 feet (3,500 meters) near the source. The winds carrying this smoke reach speeds up to 22 miles per hour (10 meters per second).
This image constitutes about 162 miles (260 kilometers) in the cross-track direction by 162 miles (260 kilometers) in the along-track direction and was generated from a portion of the data acquired during Terra Orbit 66702, using data from blocks 54 to 56 within the World Reference System-2 path 36.
MISR was built and is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Terra spacecraft is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The MISR data were obtained from the NASA Langley Research Center Atmospheric Science Data Center, Hampton, Va. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.