Fire Caused By Quebec Train Explosion Was So Big Satellites Could See It

This weekend’s derailment of a train carrying 72 cars of crude oil in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, is a true disaster, with an entire swath of the scenic town destroyed, 13 dead and 37 still missing.

Anyone who has seen pictures of the blaze has seen that the fire was huge, but new images from NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite shows just how big it was.

The image below was shot with Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on July 4, a normal night before the blaze.

July 4 Quebec Fire

The bright light in the very centre of the image is Quebec City, the largest city near the town of Lac-Megantic. Lac-Megantic, located directly below, is just a mere blip of light in the image. That’s understandable, as the town has less than 6,000 residents compared with Quebec City’s 500,000 or so.

Here’s the same image from the night of the derailment, July 6. Note that the image is slightly less crisp due to cloud cover:

July 6 Quebec Train Fire

If you look for Quebec City again, you will notice a bright light just below it. That light is the fire caused by crude oil catching alight after the train cars derailed and piled up, creating sparks, and ultimately destroying a large part of the town.

NASA’s Earth Observatory website has created this side by side image to help compare:

NASA Quebec Train Derailment

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