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Satellite photos show Dixie Fire's devastation to California town in before-and-after views

The Dixie Fire almost completely destroyed Greenville, Calif., as shown in this Aug. 9, 2021 image from Maxar's Worldview-1 satellite.
The Dixie Fire almost completely destroyed Greenville, Calif., as shown in this Aug. 9, 2021 image from Maxar's Worldview-1 satellite. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies)

The ashes of a California town spotted from orbit Monday (Aug. 9) show the devastating impact of the ongoing Dixie wildfire in the United States west.

At least 75 percent of Greenville, Calif. succumbed after the massive blaze tore through the town, according to NBC News. Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies shows just how badly the town was hurt.

Maxar’s WorldView-1 satellite collected black-and-white satellite imagery that shows how the town looks as the smoke clears. Other Maxar imagery provided color infrared data as the fire ripped through the town; burned areas appear as black or grey, and non-burned vegetation shows as shades of red or pink, officials said.

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Before-and-after photos from Maxar's Worldview-1 satellite show the massive devastation of the California town Greenville by the Dixie Fire in August 2021.

A close-up of a neighborhood in Greenville, California as seen from space before the Dixie Fire. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
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Before-and-after photos from Maxar's Worldview-1 satellite show the massive devastation of the California town Greenville by the Dixie Fire in August 2021.

A close-up of the same area of Greenville, California as seen by Maxar's Worldview-1 satellite during the Dixie Fire. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)

Global warming is increasing the devastation and power of wildfires around the world. The record-breaking blazes are triggered by heatwaves and have been recorded in 2021 on three continents. 

Earth observation satellites, including those from private companies and those from government, have been tracking the fires to assist the affected populations as best as possible.

In Europe, Mediterranean Sea countries such as Greece, Turkey and Italy were forced to evacuate residents and tourists alike from popular vacation destinations. Siberia, the sparsely inhabited region in the north-east of Russia, has seen wildfires break annual records for fire-related emissions of greenhouse gases

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Before-and-after photos from Maxar's Worldview-1 satellite show the massive devastation of the California town Greenville by the Dixie Fire in August 2021.

An overview of Greenville, California as seen from space before the Dixie Fire in August 2021. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)
Image 2 of 2

Before-and-after photos from Maxar's Worldview-1 satellite show the massive devastation of the California town Greenville by the Dixie Fire in August 2021.

In this infrared Maxar image of Greenville, Calif. during the 2021 Dixie wildfire, burned areas appear as black or grey, and non-burned vegetation shows as shades of red or pink. (Image credit: Maxar Technologies)

In the U.S., the Dixie Fire became the largest wildfire in the history of California, having destroyed more than 700 square miles (1,811 square kilometers) of land (as of Aug. 8).

The Dixie Fire began on July 13 in northern California and remains out of control despite weeks of efforts on the part of firefighters and emergency officials, who are using tools ranging from drones to satellites to modeling to fight the devastating blaze.

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for Space.com who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.