LOOK: Raging Southeast Wildfires Could Be Seen From Space
Massive wildfires are ravaging the southeastern parts of the United States, sending plumes of smoke so thick they could even be seen from space.
The Suomi NPP satellite has captured images of the thick plumes coming from the fires in the southern Appalachians within North Carolina and Georgia. Fires rising from Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina were also visible from orbit, Discover Magazine reports.
"Wildfires in the southeastern United States are usually small and do not produce much smoke compared to the big blazes in the western United States, Canada or Russia," NASA's Earth Observatory said in an update. "But a cluster of fires in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky in November 2016 defied that trend."
On the ground, smoke in the air had made it hazardous for people in some areas to even go outdoors, ABC News reports.
"Dense smoke plumes are creating very unhealthy breathing conditions," the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality said in a statement. "Everyone is likely to be affected, even those in good health. Therefore, everyone is advised to avoid all outdoor exertion."
Over 30 massive wildfires have destroyed over 80,000 acres in the affected states, CNN reports. More than 5,000 firefighters and support staff from around the country had been deployed to suppress the raging fires as North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky have declared state of emergency.
"Drought conditions are contributing to drier and larger forest fuels being available. These range from the undergrowth to sticks, leaves and logs," Brian Haines, spokesman for the North Carolina Forest Service, told CNN. "Even the smallest of sparks can ignite these very dry fuels."
Haines also added that a number of fires are being investigated as suspected arson.
The outbreak of wildfires had been caused by extreme drought in the country, with strong winds spreading the smoke broadly across the southeast. According to Earth Observatory, the drought began in May 2016 and intensified throughout the summer. Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor showed that November had the highest level of drought particularly across parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina.