So Much of the Arctic Is on Fire, You Can See It From Space

Wildfires burning large swaths of Russia are generating so much smoke, they’re visible from space, new images from NASA’s Earth Observatory reveal.

Since June, more than 100 wildfires have raged across the Arctic, which is especially dry and hot this summer. In Russia alone, wildfires are burning in 11 of the country’s 49 regions, meaning that even in fire-free areas, people are choking on smoke that is blowing across the country.

Wildfires are also burning in Greenland and parts of Alaska, following what was the hottest June in recorded history. It’s common for fires to burn during the Arctic’s summer months, but the number and extent this year are unusual and unprecedented.

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Wildfires – Arizona, USA

A wildfire inside the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff, Arizona, grew to 1,800 acres in size, prompting authorities to order mandatory evacuations in the surrounding area Monday. Firefighters hadn’t been able to contain any of the fire by Tuesday, and Arizona Governor declared a state of emergency in Coconino County. No homes or structures have been affected.


Wildfires – Siberia

Nearly 170,000 hectares of forestland is burning in the Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Yakutia, Yamal, and Buryatia regions. The hygienic standard in the air exceeds the norm by 1.2 to 2.3 times.

More than 2,000 people and 303 units of equipment are involved in extinguishing the existing 171 fires. Thirty-five wildfires were extinguished over an area of 17,600 hectares in the last 24 hours.

The regional government of Krasnoyarsk, where most of the blazes are, blamed lightning for starting most of the fires. Residents in Krasnoyarsk have been told to go outdoors only out of necessity.


Wildfires – Chile

Intense forest fires have consumed tens of thousands of hectares throughout Chile. The multiple blazes have broken records and prompted the president to call them a catastrophe. 30% of the national territory of Chile is covered by forests.

Wildfires – Portugal – Update

About 1,800 firefighters were struggling to contain wildfires in central Portugal that have already injured 20 people, including eight firefighters, authorities said Sunday.

The fires broke out Saturday across three fronts in the district of Castelo Branco, 200 kilometers (about 125 miles) northeast of Lisbon, the capital, Portugal’s Civil Protection Agency said. Firefighters were being supported by 19 firefighting aircraft and hundreds of vehicles.


Wildfires – Colorado, USA

Summer is heating up around Colorado and the wildfire risk is rising with the temperatures. Currently, there are at least 6 wildfires burning around the Centennial State two of which are larger than 2 000 acres.


Wildfires – Washington, USA

The Cold Creek Fire on the Hanford Reach National Monument charred about 18,000 acres northwest of Richland. Officials said the fire is about 60% contained as of Friday afternoon.


Wildfires – Israel

Israel sent teams of firefighters and planes on Thursday (Jul 18) to contain a blaze near Jerusalem as record temperatures fuelled wildfires across the country.

Some 100 fires have been reported in Israel in recent days and at least three or four areas had to be evacuated. No one had been injured in the fires, which were likely sparked through negligence and amplified by high temperatures, drought and winds.


Wildfires – Arizona, USA

The Cellar Fire near Prescott, Arizona has grown to 8,000 acres as of 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to Arizona Interagency Wildfire Prevention. The fire is burning about 16 miles south of Prescott. Prescott National Forest says the fire was likely caused by lightning and has zero containment.


Wildfires – Russia

Firefighters are extinguishing around 160 wildfires on a total area of almost 155,000 hectares across Russia, the press service of the Federal Aerial Protection Service reported on Monday. The day before the area affected by fires amounted to 144,500 hectares.

“As of 00:00 Moscow time on July 15, 2019, 160 forest fires were raging on a total area of 154,940 hectares, including 40 fires in the Krasnoyarsk Region (70,771 hectares) and 40 fires in the Irkutsk Region (45,307 hectares). Work to extinguish them was in progress,” the press service said.

Large fires have been registered in the Magadan Region, the Chukotka Autonomous Region, Kamchatka, the Trans-Baikal Region and Buryatia. The firefighting effort involves more than 3,300 people and 428 pieces of equipment. As many as 72 aircraft are monitoring the situation and 35 extinguish fires. A total of 50 wildfires on a total area exceeding 3,300 hectares have been extinguished over the past 24 hours.


Wildfires – Greenland

Satellites spotted another bushfire in western Greenland this week. The blaze first showed up on Wednesday. Fire crews were able to smother the flames according to the Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation, but forecasts from the European Commission’s Global Wildfire Information System shows that the risk of fires remains high to very high over the next week in western Greenland.

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Wildfires – Italy

Firefighters are battling wildfires on multiple fronts in southern Italy, including one blaze in Puglia that left at least one person dead. Firefighters said Saturday they had sent up three Canadair aircraft to dump water on a wildfire raging in Tortoli, Sardinia, that forced the evacuation of a beach and some homes. Canadairs were also deployed over a forest in Puglia’s Gallipoli, near a beach and a protected park. Firefighters said a burned body was discovered during land-based operations.


Wildfires – Hawaii, USA

Thousands of people on Maui have been ordered to evacuate two towns in the path of a spreading wildfire. The 1,200 hectare (3,000 acre) brush fire in the island’s central valley was uncontrolled on Thursday night. Firefighters were monitoring it overnight but it was too dangerous to battle in the dark.


Wildfires – Idaho, USA

Firefighters appear to be getting an upper hand on three wildfires that scorched more than 17,000 acres in Eastern Idaho over the weekend. None of the three fires burning threatened any structures nor prompted any evacuations. Still, the largest fires, located near Aberdeen and Raft River, spread exponentially on Saturday and Sunday as they were driven by high winds created by thunderstorms.


Wildfires – Greece

Two new brush fires broke out overnight on the Greek island of Evia, forcing the evacuation of four villages, authorities said Friday.

The new wildfires came several hours after a major blaze led to the mobilization of more than 100 firefighters and the evacuation of another village. Firefighters managed to limit the spread of the initial fire, which was burning woodland and agricultural areas, but difficult terrain and high temperatures hampered their efforts to extinguish it.

Wildfires – Arctic

Across the Arctic, more than 100 wildfires are releasing clouds of carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions into the atmosphere.

The fires have been burning across the Arctic Circle in Siberia and Alaska for weeks. Though fire is a natural part of some Arctic ecosystems, scientists are calling the wildfires “unprecedented” for the month of June based on their size and carbon dioxide emissions.

“These are some of the biggest fires on the planet, with a few appearing to be larger than 100,000 hectares,” Thomas Smith, professor of geography at the London School of Economics, said in an email. “The amount of CO2 emitted from Arctic Circle fires in June 2019 is larger than all of the CO2 released from Arctic Circle fires in the same month from 2010 through to 2018 put together.”


Wildfires – Germany

Sweeping wildfires forced the evacuation of four villages in eastern Germany, the latest fallout from a Europe-wide heatwave that has raised concerns about climate change.

Discarded bullets and other munitions exploded at an abandoned military firing range as fires covering 600 hectares (1,500 acres) neared the villages of Trebs, Alt Jabel, Volzrade and Jessenitz-Werk about 55 miles southeast of Hamburg. Four military helicopters scooped water out of the nearby Elbe River to douse the flames.