Wildfire Breaks Out On Greek island Of Chios

In mid-August 2012, an intense wildfire broke out on the Greek island of Chios, sending a thick plume of smoke southward toward the island of Kriti (Crete).

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on August 18. The red outlines in this image approximate the locations of active blazes.

On August 20, firefighters were still struggling to control the flames amid strong winds, news sources said. Winds ranged from 62 to 74 kilometers (38 to 46 miles) per hour, Agence France-Presse reported. Despite the efforts of firefighters, water-dropping airplanes, and helicopters, the fires had scorched about 7,000 hectares (16,000 acres), including many mastic orchards used in the cultivation of aromatic resins. An estimated 30 percent of the island’s mastic resin output was lost. Beekeepers were also tallying losses, estimated at roughly 60 percent of their hives, news sources said.

Greece experiences long, hot, dry summers, and wildfires are fairly common in August. In 2007, deadly fires on the Peloponnesus Peninsula claimed at least 60 lives, according to news reports.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott. Instrument: Aqua - MODIS