The huge plume of smoke from the Sierra Bermeja wildfire on the south coast of Spain has been picked up clearly on a satellite image from space.
The blaze, which is still not controlled, has already spread over a 3,600-hectare area between the municipalities of Estepona, Benahavís, Jubrique and Genalguacil.
The image, showing the smoke over the Alboran Sea and even reaching the African coast being pushed by the prevailing winds, was recorded by the Sentinel 3 satellite, and shared on the Twitter account of the weather expert José Luis Escudero (@tormentayrayos), who writes a blog for SUR.
Spain’s Meteorological Agency (Aemet) has also recorded the formation of pyrocumulus (fire cloud) over the area of the blaze on their rain radar. In large forest fires, as well as during volcanic eruptions, these vertically developing cumuliform clouds are formed, consisting of very hot air, mixed with gases and smoke and ash particles from the burning plant matter.
As the smoke column gains height and reaches atmospheric levels where the environment is cold enough droplets of water, falling as showers, are formed. As José Luis Escudero explains, these clouds can also generate "electrical activity and lightning in the area."