Viewed from 512 miles above, California's rampaging Rim Fire looks kind of like a classy cigarette ad, with a glowing ember giving off light wisps of smoke. That's deceptive. The largely uncontrolled inferno is now the seventh largest wildfire on record in the state, threatening thousands of buildings and burning brighter than the city lights of Reno.
The fire has consumed about 180,000 acres since it flared up on August 17 due to an unknown trigger, creating a cinder field that's become much larger than Chicago. Nearly 3,800 fire-fighting personnel are struggling to contain it, according to InciWeb, and as of Tuesday evening they'd managed to put the breakers on about one-fifth of the conflagration. As noted on this site yesterday, the storm of flames and glowing-yellow smoke achieve an Old Testament vehemence.
The fire has started to dig deeper into Yosemite National Park, reducing at least one campsite to ashes and putting in peril more than 4,000 structures. Its slow but steady creep into one of America's most beloved romping grounds is clear in the above series of images shot by NASA's Suomi satellite. The high-flyer has an instrument that excels at snapping nighttime scenes – here it's displaying how the Rim Fire has changed shape from August 23 to August 26, sending fiery spears into Yosemite that defy the massive effort firefighters are pouring into managing the blaze.