Southern California fires from space.
Southern California fires from space.
Image: nasa/Randy Bresnik

As wildfires in California rage on Earth, astronauts watch from space.

Crewmembers onboard the International Space Station have taken some particularly arresting images of smoke plumes pouring out of the fires burning more than 100,000 acres of land in Southern California.

“Thank you to all the first responders, firefighters, and citizens willing to help fight these California wildfires,” NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik said in a tweet on Thursday.

Bresnik appears to have caught sight of the Thomas Fire, a 96,000 acre blaze that was 5 percent contained as of 4 p.m. ET Thursday.

“Firefighters continue to work aggressively to protect life and property while working on control efforts around the fire perimeter,” CalFire said in an incident update

The fires are being fed by the desiccated remains of lush vegetation that grew during one of the wettest winters on record in California, only to endure a record warm and dry summer. That, plus the strong Santa Ana winds have combined to create ideal conditions for devastating wildfires.

Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy also caught sight of the fires from 250 miles up.

Thursday is a historically dangerous day in Southern California with wildfires raging near Los Angeles and San Diego. Freeways were shutdown as wildfires burned next to roads, and tens of thousands were evacuated from their homes.

Yet from space, the pillars of smoke look strangely peaceful, only hinting at the violence on the landscape below.

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