The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite detected hundreds of fires burning in the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola on May 01, 2013. The fires are outlined in red. Most of the fires burn in grass or cropland.
The location, widespread nature, and number of fires suggest that these fires were deliberately set to manage land. Farmers often use fire to return nutrients to the soil and to clear the ground of unwanted plants. While fire helps enhance crops and grasses for pasture, the fires also produce smoke that degrades air quality.
In West Africa, the agricultural burning season usually runs from mid- to late-January, after the year's primary crops are harvested, through April or May, when the next growing season begins.
Explore further: Image: Fires in Southeastern United States