The news from the Russian Far East indicated that the 1998 fire season was an exceptional bad one. According to OCHA Situation report No. 3 the State of Emergency was declared on 17th July. High winds along with exceptional dry conditions made it extremely difficult for the experienced Russian fire fighters to combat the forest fires. Several settlements were destroyed during the forest fires. Defending important infrastructure was getting more and more difficult, of especial danger are the oil and gas pipelines in this area.
Fig.1. NOAA imagery of the forest fires in the Far East of 9 October 1998
(Source: NOAA http://www.osei.noaa.gov/)
Fig.2. Forest Fire in Siberia
Fig.3. Russian Smokejumpers
According to the Aerial Forest Fire Protection Branch (Avialesookhrana) of the Federal Forest Service of Russia, a total of 21, 341 fires were recorded in Russia up to October 20, burning a total area of approximately 2,063,821 ha. In the Russian Far East (Khabarovsk region), 1261 fires were recorded burning 1,502,750 ha. On Sakhalin Island 311 fires burned, affecting 28,428 ha. of forest. According to the 1998 fire database of Avialesookhrana the Far East suffered more than 10 times average area burned as compared to the average of the last 10 years (Source: Avialesookhrana 20 October 1998).
Several reports were conducted by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on the forest fires in the Russian Far East. The reports are listed under the UN Programmes and Projects, for further information on UN OCHA refer to the ReliefWeb (http://wwwnotes.reliefweb.int/)
More Russian satellite imagery can be viewed under http://nffc.infospace.ru/engl/main.htm.
This web site of the Space Monitoring Information Support Laboratory provides extensive links to sites with satellite imagery for the Russian Federation, meteorological information as well as fire related images are accessible.