Fort McMurray Fire: Satellite Images Show Areas Devastated By Blaze

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Satellite images of out-of-control wildfires near Fort McMurray, Alta. have captured the massive swaths of land that have been burned.

The fires, which began last Sunday, could go on for months. The scale of these images make it easy to see how.

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 satellite used shortwave infrared technology to look through the smoke, and spot where the fire has swept through, as well as the intensity of the hot spots that remain.

The company captured this false colour image of the destruction left by the blaze on Friday.

fort mcmurray satellite
A look at Fort McMurray through infrared light. Purple areas are untouched and yellow shows where the fire has passed through. Bright spots show where the fire is still burning. (Photo: DigitalGlobe)

Over 1,600 square kilometres of what was once green countryside has been turned to ash.

"It is critical to understand the landscape in a time like this; actively identifying passable roads and impacted areas can save resources and time," wrote former Albertan and DigitalGlobe employee Kevin Bullock on the company's blog.

DigitalGlobe's satellites also captured images of the Fort McMurray neighbourhood of Beacon Hill, where estimates suggest as much as 80 per cent of the homes have been lost.

Red is used to represent healthy vegetation while dark grey shows dead or burnt areas.

On Tuesday, the entire area was intact. By Thursday, very little of the community remained untouched by the flames. Slide the image below to see the comparison:

before
after


Google's Crisis Response Team has used its satellite data to build a map, to compile resources and information including:
  • Satellite image updates
  • Nearby evacuee reception centres
  • The fire's progression
  • Significantly damaged neighbourhoods
  • Road closures.


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