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Whipping Santa Ana winds are playing a huge role in how quickly the Thomas Fire is spreading across Ventura County, California. Fire officials say it's a "very bad scenario." USA TODAY

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Massive plumes of smoke from wildfires raging in southern California were captured in a NASA satellite image Tuesday.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite took the photo in the afternoon, as the Thomas fire in Ventura County destroyed more than 50,000 acres with help from fierce Santa Ana winds. Smoke streams can also be seen from the Creek and Rye fires. 

The wildfires, which started Monday evening in Santa Paula, Calif., have grown to at least 55,000 acres, or 85.9 square miles, early Wednesday with no containment in sight, according to authorities. 

More: Quick-moving Thomas Fire consumes more homes

More: Officials urge southern Calif. residents to flee homes

  • Firefighter dies, thousands take on Calif. blaze
    Firefighter dies, thousands take on Calif. blaze
  • Over 6,000 firefighters battling southern California blaze
    Over 6,000 firefighters battling southern California blaze
  • California wildfire threatens thousands of homes
    California wildfire threatens thousands of homes
  • Crews light backfires to control Calif. Fires
    Crews light backfires to control Calif. Fires
  • Flames churn through Santa Barbara region
    Flames churn through Santa Barbara region
  • Raw: Giant California wildfire spreads northwest
    Raw: Giant California wildfire spreads northwest
  • Wildfires force Californians to buy smoke masks
    Wildfires force Californians to buy smoke masks
  • High winds expected to increase fire threat
    High winds expected to increase fire threat
  • Displaced horses from wildfires find shelter
    Displaced horses from wildfires find shelter
  • Wildfire Ravages Calif. Retirement Community
    Wildfire Ravages Calif. Retirement Community
  • Fire and smoke dominate Southern California skylines
    Fire and smoke dominate Southern California skylines
  • Newest California fire burns 65 structures
    Newest California fire burns 65 structures
  • Raw: Calif. wildfire forces evacuations along coast
    Raw: Calif. wildfire forces evacuations along coast
  • Raw: Biggest California fire burns 180 Sq. miles
    Raw: Biggest California fire burns 180 Sq. miles
  • Fire near San Diego destroys 20 structures
    Fire near San Diego destroys 20 structures
  • California wildfires cause people and their animals to flee
    California wildfires cause people and their animals to flee
  • Wildfires sweeping Southern California put millions on edge
    Wildfires sweeping Southern California put millions on edge
  • LA Mayor: Fire near downtown 20 percent contained
    LA Mayor: Fire near downtown 20 percent contained
  • Highway travel disrupted by Calif. wildfire
    Highway travel disrupted by Calif. wildfire
  • Former Cardinals Pitcher Anthony Reyes Fighting California Wildfires
    Former Cardinals Pitcher Anthony Reyes Fighting California Wildfires
  • Man rescues rabbit from California wildfire
    Man rescues rabbit from California wildfire
  • Fire victim: 'This is what's left of our house'
    Fire victim: 'This is what's left of our house'
  • Dramatic L.A. wildfire video looks like driving into hell
    Dramatic L.A. wildfire video looks like driving into hell
  • Raw: Crews fight to Save Bel-Air homes from fire
    Raw: Crews fight to Save Bel-Air homes from fire
  • Powerful winds boost California fire danger
    Powerful winds boost California fire danger
  • Devastating wildfires strike Southern California
    Devastating wildfires strike Southern California
  • Southern California wildfire has forced thousands to evacuate
    Southern California wildfire has forced thousands to evacuate
  • Calif. Evacuees Stunned By Wildfire Devastation
    Calif. Evacuees Stunned By Wildfire Devastation
  • Motorists witness wildfire near L.A. freeway
    Motorists witness wildfire near L.A. freeway
  • Firefighters battle flames just feet from LA homes
    Firefighters battle flames just feet from LA homes
  • Wildfires turn California freeway into wall of flames
    Wildfires turn California freeway into wall of flames
  • People, animals flee California wildfire
    People, animals flee California wildfire
  • Wildfires destroy homes across southern Calif.
    Wildfires destroy homes across southern Calif.
  • Officials urge southern Calif. residents to flee homes
    Officials urge southern Calif. residents to flee homes
  • At least 1 dead As fast-moving Brush fire scorches southern California
    At least 1 dead As fast-moving Brush fire scorches southern California
  • Wildfires destroy homes across Southern California
    Wildfires destroy homes across Southern California
  • Homes burn as fire breaks out in Los Angeles
    Homes burn as fire breaks out in Los Angeles
  • Southern Calif. fire grows to 70 square miles
    Southern Calif. fire grows to 70 square miles
  • Ventura County wildfire spreading as fast as the wind
    Ventura County wildfire spreading as fast as the wind
  • Raw: Wildfires rage in Ventura County, Calif.
    Raw: Wildfires rage in Ventura County, Calif.
  • California fire forces thousands to evacuate
    California fire forces thousands to evacuate

The deadly fires comes less than two months after a series of wildfires roared through Northern California's wine country, killing more than 40 people and incinerating thousands of homes. So far in 2017, wildfires have scorched some 1,700 square miles in California, an area roughly the size of the state of Rhode Island.

Cheri Carlson and John Bacon contributed to this story. 

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

 

 

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