The image shows an overview of fire activity on Cape York in far north QLD as viewed from the MODIS instrument on board the Aqua satellite around 1400 LT 20 Sept 2009. Numerous plumes of smoke from active wildfires are visible in the image.
The level of fire activity present in the picture represents a fairly typical amount for this area. Much of this country burns every one to two years. Fire dangers are in the high to very high range, with moderate winds and temperatures in the low- to mid-30s. Again, these are typical values. None of these fires presents a significant threat to human life or property; the country is remote and sparsely populated.
Using NAFI, it is suggested that these particular fires have been burning for roughly a week of so. The largest of these fires are the southern most ones (roughly the centre of the image...), with the three large plumes. Looking at the high resolution 721 image from the same overpass reveals the signature of open flame -- a bright pink colour in the false colour imagery – suggesting that the fires are quite hot. The green colour to the west (vegetation) of the largest also suggests that this fire could continue to burn for several more days at least. To date, the largest fire scars suggest on the order of 80 000 to 100 000 ha burnt.
The northern-most smoke plume visible on the image has also burnt a large area; it is about 80 km north of Weipa. It has also been burning for a week or so, consuming about 60 000 -70 000 ha.
In general, the remaining fires are comparatively small and short lived. No media reports are available for any of these fires.