(CBS SF) – Lightning-fueled fires on the Oregon-California border earlier this month sent huge smoke clouds into the atmosphere above the Western United States, clouds that NASA captured on camera both from jets and via satellite.

As satellite images show, dry conditions around the state provided ample fuel for a series of fires including the July Complex, Little Creeek, Eiler Fire and Bald Fire in California as well as the Larger Beaver Complex fire in Oregon. The following was taken on August 2nd:

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(NASA)

(NASA)

“Pyrocumulus clouds—sometimes called “fire clouds”—are tall, cauliflower-shaped, and appear as opaque white patches hovering over darker smoke in satellite imagery,” reports NASA. “Under certain circumstances, pyrocumulus clouds can produce full-fledged thunderstorms.”

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Such clouds are not uncommon, but are tracked closely by scientists because they can disperse pollutants across a wide area. NASA says they rarely capture photos from as close as those taken from the cockpit of an F-15c

(NASA)

(NASA)

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