Fire Near Ventura, California
On Friday afternoon, November 18, 2005, a fire started in a remote area in the mountains surrounding Ventura, California. Fueled by gusty Santa Ana winds, the blaze grew rapidly, churning smoke out over the Santa Barbara Channel.
This image was captured on November 18, shortly after the fire started; as of Monday, November 21, the fire had been about 95% contained. The fire was destructive, burning close to (4,000 acres) and causing more than $3 million in property damage.
Aided by cool weather and an ocean breeze, firefighters were expected to have the blaze fully contained by Tuesday, November 22. The Santa Ana winds are caused by the accumulation of air under pressure between the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains.
The air is carried eastward, where it descends into the valleys, losing moisture (and therefore heating up) along the way. These winds are also responsible for the visible plume of smoke blowing out into the Pacific Ocean. It is likely that fires of this sort have been occurring in a similar fashion for at least the last 500 years or so.