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Siberia Wildfires Resisting Firefighters' Efforts

Siberia forest fires (© Agatha Karaseva / Greenpeace)
Siberia forest fires (© Agatha Karaseva / Greenpeace)

The extreme forest fire emergency in Buryatia, the Trans-Baikal Territory and in one district of the Krasnoyarsk and Kamchatka Territories has now become more urgent. According to TASS, the area of forest fires in these regions of Russia has increased by 2% in the past twenty-four hours to 10,000 hectares, with more than half of wildfires raging in the Trans-Baikal Territory in East Siberia. The aerial forest protection service Avialesokhrana reported earlier today:

"As of midnight Moscow time on June 8, a total of 65 forest fires were active in Russia on an area of 10,094 hectares, including 12 wildfires in forest areas on a territory of 5,789 hectares [the Trans-Baikal Territory]."

Outside the Trans-Baikal Territory, the largest area of wildfires reported is in the Republic of Buryatia in East Siberia where almost 2,200 hectares are going up in flames. So far, more than 2,700 firefighters and support personnel have been involved in the massive effort to quench these raging wildfires. The TASS report say some 70 fire outbreaks on an area of over 1,500 hectares have been put out by the teams over the past twenty-four hours, but some 3,100 hectares of forests were lost during the same period. 

Wildfires near Lake Baikal in August 2015 (NASA Earth Observatory)

Meanwhile, the environmental group Greenpeace says the wildfires are even larger than the reports say. According to their analysis of recent satellite data (they use the above 2015 image), forest fires in eastern Russia currently cover more than 3.5 million hectares of forested land. This is an area a bit larger than the whole country of Belgium, according to the activist website. Alarmingly, Greenpeace also reports that Russia is undergoing exceedingly fast warming as a result of the global warming effect. Scientists at Greenpeace say Russia is warming faster than the rest of the planet, and they cite Russia's climate and environment agency, figures showing the decades long trend of average temperatures in Russia rising some 0.43°C (0.8°F) a decade – which is more than twice the global average of 0.17°C. This Greenpeace Russia report has more images and details.