GFMC: Forest Fires in the Russian Federation

Forest Fires  in the Russian Federation  

30 July 2010

Latest MODIS scene, 29 July 2010:

Smoke plumes from fires burning in Nijni Novgorod Region are affecting Moscow region (more details see below).
Source: MODIS Aqua scene depicted on 29 July 2010, 250m resolution.

Fires continued burning in eastern Siberia, north of the Kamchatka Peninsula, on July 30, 2010. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image the same day.
Marked by red outlines, fires burn east and west of Penzhinskaya Guba at the northernmost tip of the Sea of Okhotsk. In the west, fires send thick smoke plumes toward the north-northeast. In the east, fires send their smoke toward the east-northeast. The smoke plumes coalesce into a thick river of smoke that travels toward the southeast.
Eastern Siberia was not the only part of the Russian Federation contending with fires. A different set of wildfires sent thick smoke over Moscow.

Wildfire  situation report of  the Aerial Forest Fire Center of Russia (Avialesookhrana)

30 July, 2010
According  to  the wildfire situation report of 30 July 2010 a total of
414  fires affected 23,199 ha forested and  8,208 ha non-forested lands.
115 fires of them were reported as new fires.

Through all of Russia 9,246 people, 58 aircraft, 2,308 bulldozers, tractors and engines have
been involved in fire fighting.

Since  the  beginning  of  the 2010 fire season a total of 22,217 fires
affected 381,510 ha forested and 191,596 ha non-forested lands of the Forest Fund of Russia.

Most fires have been reported in the following regions:
Sverdlovsk region – 98
Kirovsk region – 41
Ryazan region – 12
Nizhnii Novgorod region – 21

There are large fires in following regions:
Voronezh region – 8 fires,burning area 5,028 ha forested lands.
Magadan region – 3 fires,burning area 6,330 ha forested lands and 6,796 ha non-forested lands.
Nizhniy Novgorod region – 21 fires,burning area 33,309 ha forested lands and 15,561 ha non-forested lands.
Ryazan region – 12 fires,burning area 9,450 ha forested lands and 1,908 ha non-forested lands.
Chukotka autonomus republic – 7 fires,burning area 4,995 ha forested lands and 25,300 ha non-forested lands.

Source: Aerial Forest Fire Center of Russia (Avialesookhrana)
Prepared for GFMC by Andrey Eritsov and Andrey Usachev

Forest Fires in Central Russia

Forest fires in the regions of Voronezh and Nizhny Novgorod in Central Russia has caused massive damage in these two areas. More than 800 houses were burned down and about five people were killed due to this tragic incident within twenty four hours from when it started.

Russia’s emergency ministry reported that in Voronezh alone, 270 houses were destroyed and over 100 persons were injured and hospitalized. Health agencies promptly provided ambulatory assistance to those who were injured. However, five people were killed, and one of them was a firefighter.

In Nizhny Novgorod, about 540 homes were burned down but no casualties were reported. More than a thousand residents in areas that were likely to be reached by the fire were immediately evacuated to a safer area. To prevent the forest fires from further spreading to other areas, the emergency ministry has dispatched more firefighting units as well as sixteen aircrafts and helicopters.

Temperature in Moscow has been steady at 95 degrees in the past five weeks causing the country’s capital to suffer the worst drought to ever happen in thirty years. Due to the high temperature, peat fires continue to pose various threats on the economic and ecological aspects of the country. In addition, peat fires cause the capital to be covered with heavy smog.

Raging Russian Fires Destroy Homes, People Flee

Raging forest fires encircled a southern Russian city and tore through provincial villages Thursday, forcing mass evacuations as Moscow suffered through a record, weeks-long heat wave and smog cloud caused by peat-bog fires.

Some 212,506 acres (86,000 hectares) were burning nationwide, and flames all but encircled the city of Voronezh, 300 miles southeast of Moscow. Forest fires on Moscow’s outskirts reached the city’s western fringe, in the Krylatskoye district, but were extinguished toward nightfall.

State television pictures showed the evacuation by ambulance of a Voronezh city hospital. Channel One said more than 800 patients were transferred to other facilities as flames approached the city’s outskirts and thick smoke lowered visibility. Hundreds of children were evacuated from at least seven summer camps, according to the regional Emergencies Ministry website.

Distraught locals were shown next to their burning homes, with one elderly man peering into the camera and asking “Where are we to live now?” Over his head, plumes of thick black smoke sailed toward the city center. There, the few locals on the streets were shown holding handkerchiefs to their mouths, and stooping to cough.

Hundreds of homes in surrounding villages burned to the ground, the ministry said. The Interfax news agency reported that the 340 homes were destroyed in a village near Nizhny Novgorod, around 250 miles east of Moscow.

There were no reports of casualties.

Hot summers are usual even in Russia’s more northern climes, where temperatures routinely reach the mid-80s. But Moscow on Thursday broke its all-time temperature record for the second time in a week.

The mercury hit 100 (37.8 Celsius) on Thursday, beating by a fraction a record set on Monday, the country’s news agencies reported.

Muscovites have been urged to skip work and stay indoors due to the heat and potentially dangerous smog from peat bog fires outside the city, as the third week of a protracted heat wave approached.

While the heat, which is relatively mild for the United States but highly unusual in Northern Europe, was expected to ease in the coming days, the smog from the peat bogs could be around for weeks, officials have said.

The Moscow region has thousands of acres of peat bogs — wetlands full of decayed plant matter. When they are drained for agriculture and other purposes, they can become a fire hazard.

When moisture is especially low, such as during heat waves, the peat, which is high in carbon, is higly flammable and can ignite and smolder underground and give off dangerous fumes.

Environmentalists said smog that blanketed Moscow in 2002 killed hundreds of people.

20 dead as forest fires rage across Russia

Forest fires raged across Russia on Friday, destroying villages, surrounding one southern city and killing at least 20 people, including three firefighters, officials said.

The fires have spread quickly across more than 200,000 acres (90,000 hectares) in recent days after a record heat wave and severe drought that has plagued Russia for weeks. Fields and forests have dried up, and much of this year’s wheat harvest has been ruined.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday visited the smoldering ruins of Verkhnyaya Vereya, where all 341 houses were burned to the ground and two resident died in the blaze. The village was one of three destroyed around Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s fifth-largest city located 300 miles (475 kilometers) east of Moscow.

“Before winter, each house will be restored,” Putin told a crowd of distressed villagers, most of them women. “I promise — the village will be rebuilt.”

One weeping woman thanked him for his “serious talk” and promises of compensation of 200,000 rubles ($6,500) for each villager, and Putin kissed her on the cheek.

The fires in the Voronezh, Nizhny Novogorod and Moscow regions have destroyed more than 1,000 houses and left more than 2,000 people homeless, according to the country’s Emergencies Ministry. Fires also were raging in 11 other regions in central and southern Russia.

Fires have all but encircled Voronezh, a city of 850,000 people, some 300 miles (475 kilometers) south of Moscow. The streets of Voronezh were filled with smog Friday and a giant wall of rising black smoke could be seen on the horizon, television footage showed.

More than 900 patients had to be hurriedly transferred out of a Voronezh hospital on Thursday and nearly 2,000 children were evacuated from 12 summer camps in the path of the flames.

Firefighters trying to contain the blaze were pouring water on the forests from the air, emergencies services spokeswoman Olga Izvekova said.

At least 20 people have died in the past two days from the forest fires, according to officials. The toll includes five people, including one firefighter, in Voronezh, and six residents and a firefighter who died when a fire swept through the Mokhovoye village in the Moscow region on Thursday evening. The other deaths were in the Nizhny Novgorod and Lipetsk regions.

Forest fires on Moscow’s outskirts reached the city’s western fringe on Thursday, but were extinguished toward nightfall. A cold front moving in from the west brought some respite from the heat Friday and cleared a potentially dangerous smog cloud caused by peat bogs burning east and south of the capital.

July has been the hottest in Moscow in 130 years of recorded history. The mercury hit 100 (37.8 Celsius) in Moscow on Thursday, setting a new record. A high of 90 (32 Celsius) is forecast for Friday.

Few Russian apartments and offices have air conditioning, and opening windows in Moscow in recent days has brought in the smoky smell of burning peat. Dried up peat bogs are highly flammable and smolder underground, giving off dangerous fumes.

Environmentalists say smog that blanketed Moscow in 2002 from burning peat killed hundreds of people.

Putin on Friday urged local officials to step up their emergency operations to defeat the fires.

“The situation in these regions deteriorated yesterday, we need to take some urgent steps,” Putin said at a televised meeting.

He also said local officials who had failed to stop the fires in their regions should resign.

Prosecutors will “thoroughly investigate and evaluate each official,” he said.

Hundreds flee forest fires in Russia

MOSCOW — Raging forest fires encircled a southern Russian city and tore through provincial villages yesterday, forcing mass evacuations as Moscow suffered through a record, weeks-long heat wave and a smog cloud caused by peat-bog fires.
Some 212,506 acres were burning nationwide, and flames all but encircled the city of Voronezh, 300 miles southeast of Moscow. Forest fires reached Moscow’s western fringe, but were extinguished toward nightfall.
The Interfax News agency reported that 340 homes were destroyed in a village near Nizhny Novgorod, about 250 miles east of Moscow.
There were no reports of casualties. Source:

Wildfires in central Russia leave at least 5 dead, 34 injured, over 900 homes destroyed

At least five people have died, 34 injured and over 900 homes have burned down in three central Russian regions in the last 24 hours, a police source said on Friday.
More than 270 houses were destroyed in the Voronezh region and 505 houses burned down in the Nizhny Novgorod region.
“Five people, including a fire fighter, were killed, 21 people were hospitalized and over 100 received ambulatory treatment in the Voronezh region,” an Emergencies Ministry spokesperson said earlier in the day.
“Over 2,500 people were evacuated,” the source said.
The ministry has not received reports of human casualties from the Nizhny Novgorod region, but at least 1,662 residents have been evacuated from the areas threatened by quickly spreading fires.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday arrived in the wildfire ravaged region of Nizhny Novogorod to assess the situation.
The source added 72 houses were destroyed in the Vladimir Region and an additional 59 in the Moscow region.
The ministry has dispatched additional firefighting units and 16 aircraft and helicopters to fight wildfires in five regions of central Russia. The Moscow Region has suffered from the worst drought in almost three decades and peat fires have broken out causing heavy smog in the capital.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the government to take urgent additional steps to fight the fires and to allocate funds for damage compensation. Medvedev has also instructed to prepare proposals to purchase additional equipment for firefighting, including Be-200 aircraft.
Temperatures across much of western and central Russia have topped 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) during the past five weeks, causing peat bog and forest fires and creating what is thought to be the worst drought since 1972. Source:

Heat wave smoking Moscow under smog

smo g to hit Moscow in almost a decade has sent pollution 10 times higher than safe levels, and Russia’s chief lung doctor yesterday said residents were inhaling the equivalent of 40 to 50 cigarettes every few hours.
The city of more than 10 million has been sweltering under a record-breaking heat wave exacerbated by peat fires in areas around the capital.
With street temperatures hitting almost daily all-time highs, the peat fires’ smoke and cinder smell have crept into sultry offices, homes and restaurants.
“The concentration of carbon monoxide and suspended particles in Moscow surged up to 10 times above the limit (Tuesday) night,” Alexei Popikov, chief specialist at Mosekomonitoring, a city government agency overseeing air pollution, told Reuters.
Alexander Chuchalin, Russia’s chief pulmonary physician, told a news conference of the dangers. The current level of carbon monoxide “damages an average of 20 per cent of red blood cells in a human body, which equals the effect of two packs of cigarettes smoked within three or four hours,” he said.
He advised residents to wear masks, take antioxidants and stay indoors. Source:

Smog chokes Moscow amid record heat wave

Russian officials urge people to stay indoors and skip work, as temperatures stay in the 90s and peat fires nearby make the air unsafe to breathe. No respite is expected soon.

July 29, 2010

Reporting from Vyalki, Russia

As peat fires raged on the outskirts of town, shrouding Moscow in a thick cloud of smog, residents Wednesday sought to cope with a record-breaking heat wave that is expected to intensify further.
Public health officials urged workers in non-essential jobs to stay home and people not to drive their cars as weather forecasters predicted temperatures exceeding 102 degrees Thursday, in a city more used to icy spells than such heat.
With more than 1,480 fires in two weeks, the smog level had soared to as high as 10 times the safe level in parts of Moscow.
The nation’s chief sanitary inspector, Dr. Gennady Onishchenko, has advised city dwellers to wet their window screens to block harmful substances in the air from entering their homes.
Muscovites have taken to unorthodox methods to deal with the heat in a city with little air conditioning.
“I sit at work sweating like a pig and meekly watching the clock,” said mathematician Andrey Razumovsky, who is employed at an academic institute. “But when I come home I can’t sleep either because of the high temperature inside.
“Last night I went to sleep at 4 in the morning only after I covered myself with a wet bed sheet, which was dry by the time I woke up at 7 a.m.,” he said.
The heat wave, already more than a month long across western and central Russia, has set one record after another as temperatures hover between 96 and 99 degrees. Wednesday marked the fifth consecutive day that Moscow was engulfed in a heavy cloud of whitish, smelly smog.
“The average monthly temperature for the month of July in Moscow The average temperature this month in Moscow “is 8 degrees higher, which is an incredible figure,” Dmitry Kiktyov, deputy chief of Gidromettsentr, the Russian state weather agency, said in a telephone interview. “And this is very, very bad for people’s health, crops, fresh water replenishment and fire situation.”
Nowhere is that situation worse than in villages such as Vyalki, 10 miles southeast of Moscow, where peat fires have consumed forests and villagers, with little help from authorities, have been trying to save their homes and property.
Valentina Yusheva, 51, said she was awakened early Monday by the thick smell of smoke in the sweltering heat.
Yusheva said she panicked when she saw a thick pillar of black smoke rising from a birch grove on a former peat bog on the edge of a cemetery 200 yards from her home.
She called the fire department and got no answer, so she and her next-door neighbor armed themselves with garden spades and began digging a trench.
“Soon other villagers joined us with various garden tools in their hands and we began to dig the trench separating the cemetery from the birch grove under which a mass of peat was burning,” said Yusheva, lanky, with bright eyes and a deep tan. “We were sweating and coughing and the heat coming up from underneath was intolerable but we were still digging.”
“We knew that at that moment no one will protect our families but us,” said Yusheva. At one point she was almost struck by a falling tree.
On Tuesday, a dozen firefighters finally showed up from the regional capital of Kaluga, southwest of Moscow.
“If these brave men hadn’t arrived in time, Rodniki, Vyalki and other villages and towns in the vicinity would have suffocated in smoke by now,” said Vadim Primak, mayor of the neighboring town of Rodniki, who had called friends in Kaluga to plead for a fire crew.
A new fire emerged Wednesday several hundred yards away in the dried-out forest along the Moscow-Yegoryevsk highway. A bulldozer was used to dig long trenches while firefighters shot water toward the flames that had reached the crowns of tall pines.
“One truck can carry three tons of water and it lasts in this fire about 10 minutes,” said firefighter Yevgeny Yevteyev, nearly collapsing with fatigue in the heat. “It is a very difficult fire and we are exhausted working without relief for more than 24 hours already.” Source:

Moscow Breaks Heat Record as Wildfire Smoke Lingers

Moscow set a heat record for the second time in a week as the Russian capital remained wrapped in smoke from wildfires on dry peat bogs east of the city.
The temperature in Moscow reached 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) at 4 p.m. today, exceeding the record of 37.5 degrees set on July 26, Irina Smetanina, spokeswoman forGidromettsentr, the state weather service, said by telephone. The July 26 reading was the hottest since records began 130 years ago.
Moscow also broke the record for electricity consumption — 11,623 megawatts — at 2 p.m. today, Interfax reported, citing Vitaly Strugovets, a spokesman forMoscow United Electric Grid Company. It was the third such record during the current heat wave, the news service reported.
Firefighters are battling 340 blazes across Russia covering 86,658 hectares (214,136 acres) amid a drought that led the government to declare weather-related emergencies in 23 crop- producing regions. Agriculture MinisterYelena Skrynnik said on July 23 that the drought had damaged 10.1 million hectares, or 32 percent of all land under cultivation.
ussia has milled 33 million metric tons of grain, including 24.6 million tons of wheat, in the year to date, though yields fell to 23.2 centners per hectare from 28.5 centners a year earlier, the Agriculture Ministry said on itswebsite today. A centner is equal to 100 kilograms.

Wheat Stocks
World wheat stockpiles will decline by the end of June as drought damages crops in Russia and Kazakhstan, the International Grains Council said, slashing an outlook for higher inventories.
Stocks will drop to 192 million metric tons at the end of the 2010-11 crop year from 197 million tons at the end of June this year, the London-based council said in a monthly report today.
Forty-two fires broke out in Russia overnight in peat bogs drained for agriculture during the Soviet era, including 39 in central Russia, according to theEmergency Situations Ministry. All but two of the fires were extinguished.
Since the start of the fire season, 950,457 hectares have burned, the ministry said.Source:

Heat Damage To Russia Crop Past Worst, Official Says

Date: 30-Jul-10
Country: RUSSIA
Author: Aleksandras Budrys

Heat Damage To Russia Crop Past Worst, Official Says Photo: Vladimir Lavrov
Men sail a boat with burning trees seen in the background in the Russian city of Voronezh, July 29, 2010.
Photo: Vladimir Lavrov

Russia’s worst drought for decades is set to drag on for at least the next 7 days in some areas but further serious damage to grain crops is not expected, a senior government weather forecaster said on Thursday.
Drought in some regions of Russia, one of the world’s biggest wheat exporters, has sent global prices soaring to year highs in July, putting U.S. wheat futures on track for their biggest monthly gain since 1973.
Grain traders say the rally shows signs of continuing, although analysts observed stocks built up over the last two years of the largest global wheat harvests in history should ensure sufficient supplies.
The International Grains Council confirmed the impact of drought and floods in the key Black Sea growing area as it cut its 2010/11 forecast of global wheat output by 13 million tonnes to 651 million tonnes, but said it would still be the third highest crop on record.
“A prolonged period of dry weather and high temperatures significantly reduced yield prospects in Russia, Kazakhstan, parts of Ukraine and northwestern areas of the EU, while wet weather and flooding were detrimental for crops in Canada and parts of south-eastern Europe,” the IGC said on Thursday.
Anna Strashnaya, head of the Agricultural Forecasts Department at Russia’s Hydrometeorological Service (Rosgidromet) told Reuters further crop damage was likely to be limited.
“I don’t think any more damage may be done to grains,” she said. “Now we have to harvest what is left.”
This confirms Wednesday’s statement by CEO and President of SovEcon agricultural analysts Andrei Sizov Sr.
“Basically, the peak of losses have been passed. What has been burned has been burned,” Sizov told Reuters on Wednesday, commenting on the Black Sea region crop losses.


Rosgidromet forecast torrential rains on Thursday and Friday in the northwest and in the central part of European Russia as well as a 5-8 degree dip in temperatures from current levels close to +40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Farenheit).
But in the regions along the Volga worst hit by the drought no rains are expected in the next 7 days and the heat of between +35 and +40 degrees Celsius will continue.
eat records that beat previous 30-70 year-old highs were registered in July in the North-Western, Central and Volga Federal Districts, the service said.
“In fact, the absence of rains permits farmers to harvest what is left,” Strashnaya commented.
Russian officials are very careful giving crop forecasts but on Tuesday, the economy ministry admitted this year’s grain crop may be less than 80 million tonnes, 5 million tonnes below the latest official forecast.
Analysts believe that the crop may fall to less than 70 million tonnes nearly halving the country’s exports.
Strashnaya added the crop situation in the North Caucasus, considered one of Russia’s main breadbaskets, was benign and this may partially cushion the damage caused to other regions.
Heat is also set to stay in the Urals. In many regions of Siberia and the Far East, where the harvesting has not yet started, abundant rains are expected in the next few days.


In neighboring Ukraine, suffering its own problems from drought and flooding, customs services set new controls on wheat exports which traders said on Thursday could halt shipments.
“This effectively means a ban on wheat exports,” Serhiy Stoyanov, head of Ukrainian traders’ and producers’ union UAC, told Reuters, as analysts said Ukraine was positioning itself to deal with grain shortages after its troubled growing season.
“The latest actions show that the government fears a food grain shortage in the country and the controls are directed at making food grain exports more complicated and limiting sales,” said Mykola Vernytsky from ProAgro consultancy.
Fellow Black Sea grain producer Romania, said on Thursday it had harvested 4.4 million tonnes of wheat from three quarters of the area planted but yields had dropped due to flooding and hail causing a 15 percent plunge in expected output.
Romania’s southern Black Sea neighbor Bulgaria said it had exported some 51,000 tonnes of wheat from its new crop, mainly to Spain, Italy and Portugal, while another 110,000 tonnes are being loaded, an official said.
Although Bulgaria’s harvest is expected to be down on last years because of the weather farmers and traders say its wheat exports may match last year’s exports of 1.4 million tonnes, if demand remains high and prices attractive. Source:

Strong wind aggravates the situation with bush fires east off Moscow City

MOSCOW, July 29 (Itar-Tass) – Strong wind has aggravated the situation with bush fires blazing in the three eastern/southeast districts of the Moscow region – the Yegoryevsk, Kolomna and Shatura, Viktor Klimkin, a deputy chief of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry’s Moscow branch said Thursday night.
“Because of the wind these blazes are moving to the category of crown fires from ground fires,” he said.
In connection with this, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu has dispatched an additional grouping of firefighting and rescue forces to the fire-stricken districts of the Moscow region, as well as to the Nizhny Novgorod region, which is located some 400 kilometers to the east of Moscow.
A column of special vehicles that left for Nizhny Novgorod includes ten firefighting tanks and twenty water-jetting vehicles.
“In the Moscow region, we have a grouping from Moscow City’s main department of our ministry,” Klimkin said. “In part, ten road-tanks are operating in the Yegoryevsk district.” He said the fires in the three districts do not pose an immediate threat for the city of Moscow yet. Source:

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