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NASA releases starting satellite image of fires in central Africa

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, July 24, 2014, 5:17 PM - Hundreds of intense fires tore through central Africa in mid-July. Now, the extent of the flames can be seen in a startling image released by NASA.

Fires aren't uncommon this time of year in the region, and not all of them are destructive.

"Fire is integral to life in much of Africa," NASA says.

"As predictable as the rainy and dry seasons, fire sweeps across the continent in a wave that moves north to south following the seasons."

In the image below -- which was captured on July 16, 2014 -- multiple hotspots can be seen across the Congo, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. Thick smoke being driven south by strong winds is also clearly depicted.

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Many of the fires have been started by residents, an annual practice that burns away brush to clear the land for agriculture.

"Although lightning can also ignite fires in this region, it is highly likely that most of these fires are agricultural in origin," NASA says.

 Photo courtesy: NASA/Goddard, Lynn Jenner

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