The gorse fires ravaging Northern Ireland’s hills can be clearly seen from space.
Amazing images released by Nasa, the US government’s space programme, show the extent of the blazes, the scorching heat being radiated by them and the huge volume of smoke emanating from them.
These images were taken yesterday at 12.55pm by the Nasa Aqua satellite, which orbits 700km above the earth.
One expert told the Belfast Telegraph: “You can clearly see the heat sources (red boxes) and smoke plumes from the gorse fires in Northern Ireland.”
The smoke-filled skies over Ulster are in stark contrast to the cloud-free ones of the rest of the UK.
Merseyside-based John Locker, who specialises in space imagery, went in search of the Nasa images after hearing about our gorse fires on the news.
“I look for interesting images and when I was looking for these images the fires stood out quite considerably, as today’s skies across the UK are particularly clear.
“These images were taken by a Nasa satellite orbiting 700km above the earth, so I knew the fires had to be pretty intense,” he said.
“The images show smoke plumes from a number of different fires drifting 10 miles out to sea. In fact, some of the smoke plumes are 20-30 miles high.
“I have never seen anything like this in the UK. I have seen it on the west coast of America, where there are regularly fires.”
Mr Locker added: “There was a refinery fire in the south east of England several years ago that could be seen from space but this is the first time I have seen images like these coming through.”