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The Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) on board the NOAA satellites may be used to detect major fires caused by industrial accidents through the combined use of middle (3.55-3.93 mum) and thermal infrared (10.5-11.3 mum, 11.5-12.5 mum) channels. An algorithm was developed to identify the pixels which correspond to the sites of the industrial accidents where a major fire had developed. The algorithm was applied for two industrial accidents; Lyon, France on 2 June 1987 and Kalohori, Greece on 24 February 1986. The algorithm was based on the analysis of the differences between the brightness temperatures resulting from Channels 3 (3.55-3.93 mum) and 4 (10.5-11.3 mum) of AVHRR and of two masking filters for clouds. The first filter takes advantage of the information provided by Channels 1 (0.58-0.68 mum) and 5 (11.5-12.5 mum) of AVHRR, whereas the second introduces a threshold value for cloud top temperature. The use of the algorithm for the selected industrial accidents demonstrates its capability to detect major fires.