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A fire in the US midwest is so big you can see it from space — two people have been killed in the blaze so far

Business Insider logo Business Insider 4/19/2018 Jeremy Berke


oklahoma fire

oklahoma fire
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A blaze that broke out in Oklahoma earlier this week has claimed at least two lives, injured 20 others, and is still raging as of Thursday. 

The largest of the fires, the Rhea Fire, has scorched over 250,000 acres. Firefighters are continuing to battle the blaze as of Thursday, reports a local Fox News affiliate, but it's only about 15% contained.

The fires have gotten so large that they're visible from space. The European Space Agency (ESA) captured a few striking images from a satellite that illustrate the scale of the damage. The image below shows a fire raging just west of Putnam, Oklahoma.

The fires, spurred by strong winds, have forced many Oklahoma residents to evacuate their homes. Firefighters are battling searing walls of flame over 70 feet tall, according to local reports. 

"You can’t even imagine the scale of how big they are, how fast they move, and how far they can jump ahead of themselves," Tulsa Deputy Fire Chief Andy Teeter told Tulsa World

Wildfires have gotten worse in recent years because of climate change, and that trend is expected to continue as Earth's average temperature rises. In California, which suffered a spate of deadly wildfires in late 2017, 14 of the 20 largest fires in the state's history have occurred since the year 2000, according to Climate Nexus. 

In the western US overall, the average annual number of wildfires that are bigger than 1,000 acres has more than doubled since 1970, according to Climate Central. The typical wildfire season has also stretched to be 2 1/2 months longer during that time.

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