Early in the morning on June 6, 2013, a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. The resulting crash and series of explosions killed at least 13 people, destroyed 40 homes, and forced 2,000 people to evacuate the town.
The fire was visible to the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite. The image on the right was acquired at 6:59 GMT (2:59 a.m. local time) on July 6 by the instrument’s “day-night band,” which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe signals such as city lights, auroras, fires, and reflected moonlight. The image on the left, shown for comparison, was acquired by the same instrument on July 4, before the derailment. Light sources are not as crisp in the July 6 image because of cloud cover.
CBC (2013, July 8) 8 more bodies found in Lac-Mégantic, raising death toll to 13. Accessed July 8, 2013.
CNN (2013, July 8) About 40 still missing after runaway train crashes, explodes in Canadian town. Accessed July 8, 2013.