Glass Fire Satellite Images Show Blaze Spreading Rapidly Across Napa County

A huge new fire in California that has prompted the evacuation of more than 7,000 people can be seen in satellite images, with smoke from the blaze visible from space.

The Glass Fire started at around 4 a.m. local time near St. Helena and has rapidly spread to cover around 2,500 acres, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said Sunday.

The loop of satellite imagery posted on Twitter below by Rob Mayeda—a meteorologist covering the Bay Area for NBC—shows smoke being produced by the Glass Fire streaming into the atmosphere. It also shows smoke from several other blazes that are raging in Northern California, including the massive August Complex, which has burned more than 870,000 acres.

The Glass Fire, which is currently zero percent contained, can be seen at the bottom-center of the map within the the San Francisco Bay Area. It has been fueled by dry conditions and gusty winds, Cal Fire said.

The image below provides a much closer view of the fire, captured using NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview interactive application. As can be seen in the photo, the smoke the fire is producing is moving in a southwesterly direction, out towards the Pacific Ocean.

Napa County wildfires
A satellite image from September 27, showing the Glass Fire in Napa County, California. NASA/EOSDIS

The National Weather Service said winds will continue to blow offshore—from the north-northeast toward the south-southwest—on Monday, which could help the fire to spread further.

The fire has prompted the evacuation of more than 7,000 people in Napa County, including a hospital in St. Helena. More than 2,200 structures are under threat from the blaze, the cause of which is currently under investigation.

Two additional fires—Shady and Boysen—have also been reported nearby, just over the border with Sonoma County to the southeast, and northeast of the city of Santa Rosa. These have prompted further evacuations in Sonoma County.

Both of these fires are believed to be spot fires of the Glass Fire. This means they were ignited by flying sparks or embers that were carried from the initial fire by the wind.

The National Weather Service Bay Area posted a satellite view (see below) that is usually used to track fog and clouds, although it can also reveal the location fires. The black patch in Napa County that is heading towards Santa Rosa represents smoke being produced by the Glass Fire.

The post below from the National Weather Service Bay Area shows a satellite image of the Glass Fire, compared with live views of the blaze from webcams located on the ground. In the video—captured by a camera in St. Helena—the large quantities of smoke the fire is producing are clearly visible.

As of Sunday, more than 17,000 firefighters are battling at least 25 major blazes in California, with a Red Flag Warning in place for much of the north of the state. This warning, the highest level of alert, means weather conditions may result in "extreme fire behavior" within 24 hours in the affected region.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 8,100 wildfires have been reported in California, which have burned a total of more than 3.7 million acres. The state has confirmed 26 fire-related fatalities, while over 7,000 structures have been destroyed.

Dakota Smith, a meteorologist and scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA,) shared images showing the Glass, Boysen and Shady fires saying there was a "scary situation" in Santa Rosa and the surrounding communities.

"This is a rapidly growing fire complex," he said on Twitter early Monday. "The Glass/Shady fire cluster showing no signs of slowing. Flaring up over the last 90 minutes."

There are currently evacuation orders and warnings in place for parts of Napa and Sonoma counties (click here for the Cal Fire incident page to see the full list of areas.)

Evacuation orders mean there is an "immediate threat" to life. "This is a lawful order to leave now. The area is fully closed to public access," Cal Fire said in a status update.

"The public is reminded to stay vigilant on current fire conditions. Please continue to adhere to road closures and any evacuation warnings or orders. A reminder to drive slowly and yield to emergency personnel in the area. There will be smoke in the respective areas as firefighters continue firefighting operations. If at any time you feel unsafe, please call 911."