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06/26/2013 10:23 am ET Updated Jun 27, 2013

West Fork Fire: NASA Photos Reveal Massive Smoke Plume Seen From Space

The West Fork complex of three wildfires burning in the Rio Grande National Forest continues to rage after more than doubling in size over the weekend and having burned a total of 81,331 acres as of Wednesday. The fire remains zero percent contained.

The massive smoke plume from the West Fork Fire could be seen from space and was captured in three recent photos from NASA.

In the first photo below, one of the Expedition 36 crew members aboard the International Space Station snapped this 400mm picture of the West Fork Complex fire in southern Colorado on June 19, 2013, via NASA Earth Observatory.

west fork fire

A closer view via NASA Earth Observatory:

west fork fire

The next photo was taken on June 22, 2013 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite. The actively burning areas, detected by MODIS's thermal bands, are outlined in red, via NASA:

west fork fire

The West Fork complex consists of three wildfires -- West Fork, Windy Pass, and Papoose -- that are burning on the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests in southwest Colorado, according to InciWeb.org. The fires were combined into a complex on Sunday, June 16 and are burning on steep, rugged terrain with large amounts of beetle-killed trees.

For a larger view of the many fires that have been burning in Colorado this year, Google has put together this "2013 Colorado Wildfire" map:

View Colorado Current Fires in a larger map

More photos of the devastating 2013 wildfires in Colorado:

PHOTO GALLERIES
Colorado Wildfires 2013

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