192 fires burned throughout the Russian Federation on July 28, 2011. Most of the fires burned in the northwest, but the fires in the Far East were far more impressive from space.
This image, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite, shows fires burning in parts of Khabarovsk, Amur, and Sakha (Yahkutiya) on July 28, 2011. The large image (download) shows many more fires across the broader region. The fires are marked in red. The Russian government reported 19 large fires in this region on July 28, and RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency, reported 41 fires on July 29.
While the fires are widespread, it is the dense smoke that stands out. The fires are not threatening any settlements, according to the Russian government, but the smoke poses its own risks. Smoke carries tiny particles that can irritate the eyes and respiratory system.
It’s not possible to tell from the image how the fires started, but 90 percent of the fires that start within 90 kilometers of a settlement in Russia are caused by people. Beyond that point, 40 percent of the fires are set by people and 60 percent are caused by lightning.
The Russian government has dedicated 7,328 people to fighting wildfires throughout the country. Weather conditions in the Far East were challenging.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek.