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Monitoring fires using satellite data, Valcea County, Romania, March-April 2019

on 18 April 2019

During the months of Marchand April 2019, several forest fires broke out in Valcea County, Romania. Such events can be monitored using Earth Observation satellite data, which provide important information on the state of the affected areas before, during and after the fires. This allows authorities to assess the situation and make informed intervention decisions, as well as evaluate the damage.

At the end of March, a fire affected more than 25 hectares of dry wooden grassland and deciduous vegetation from a rugged area in Lotrului Mountains, near Lake Bradisor and the village of Malaia.

One week later, two outbreaks burnt down approximately 30 hectares of oak forest in Capatanii Mountains, between Calimanesti and Brezoi, along the Olt river, blocking the road traffic on DN7/E81.

In both cases, the strong winds and steep slopes have hampered the intervention of emergency crews.

Out of control forest fires may cause extreme long-term damage to the environment. Along with improving the detection of and response times to such disasters, there is an increasing need to achieve better post-event delineation, assessment and monitoring of the affected areas.

Copernicus Sentinel-2 data can be efficiently used for identifying and mapping wildfire events and burnt areas, as well as monitoring environmental recovery. Stakeholders that may benefit include environmental protection agencies, civil protection units, forestry management organisations, national parks administrations, as well as local communities.

Credit for image: TERRASIGNA