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Fires and Smoke Across Alaska and Canada
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Fires and Smoke Across Alaska and Canada

July 6, 2004
In mid-June 2004, record-breaking lightning strikes ignited fires in the Alaskan and Canadian wilderness. The fires have continued into July, as shown here in this true-color Terra MODIS image from July 1, 2004. Hot and dry conditions, along with windy weather, have exacerbated the problem, pushing fire behavior to extreme levels: firefighters at the Boundary Fire (north of Fairbanks Alaska) reported the fire spreading at 3 miles per hour with flames up to 30 feet in length. Over 930,000 acres have burned across the region since the lighting-ignited fires began. Beyond the hazards posed by just the fires themselves, smoke has become a major concern. As shown in this image, the thick yellow smoke stretches across the Bering Strait to Russian Siberia, and well out into the Gulf of Alaska. Not only does the smoke pose visibility problems, but it inhibits the efforts of firefighters working to combat and contain the fires from ground and air.