Deadly brushfires raced out of control in southeastern Australia in early February, 2009. This image shows the Barry Mountains of central Victoria, captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Places where the sensor detected active fire are outlined in red. The hot, dry summer months make fire common in the forests and grasslands of southeastern Australia, even in areas where there are no people. In the past decade, the area has experienced several severe droughts. The fire of early 2009, which was compounded by an exceptional heatwave, was the worst fire disaster in Australia’s history.

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