Millions of acres burning in Siberia

Above: Fires in Russia detected by a NASA satellite September 28, 2016.

Many wildfires are burning in eastern Siberia, creating massive amounts of smoke. Greenpeace reports that last week almost 5 million acres were involved. The fires have forced school closures in Bratsk and Ust-Kut in the Irkutsk region where thousands of children have been sent home according to local media.

Wreckage found of missing Russian air tanker

This article first appeared on Fire Aviation.

Russian rescuers
Rescuers in Russia board a helicopter to fly to the site of the air tanker crash. Screen shot from EMERCOM of Russia video.

The wreckage of the Russian air tanker that was reported missing in Siberia on July 1 has been found. Rescuers found the debris of the Ilyushin IL-76 plane at approximately 2 a.m. Moscow time in the Kachug District, 9 km southeast of the settlement of Rybny Uyan.

Сегодня при обследовании места предполагаемого крушения самолета Ил-76 МЧС России летчиком-наблюдателем Авиалесоохраны Иркутской области Антипиным Александром в Качугском районе было обнаружено место крушения самолета Ил-76 МЧС России. В настоящее время десантники-пожарные Федеральной Авиалесоохраны в глухом лесу, где упал самолет, проводят расчистку площадки для приземления вертолета со спасателями МЧС. #леснойпожар #лес #пламя #героизм #парашютисты #десантники #огонь #пожар #лесной_пожарный #Avialesookhrana #Forest #fire #firefighter #smokejumpers #лесныепожары #bomberos #авиация #firefighterslife #пламя #aviation #plane #bombeiros #самолет #авиалесоохрана #рослесхоз #мчс #ил76 #трагедия

A photo posted by Федеральная Авиалесоохрана (@avialesookhrana) on

From the air the in the smoky conditions in the forest the only recognizable part of the aircraft was the tail.

Initially there were conflicting reports on the number of personnel on board, ranging from 9 to 11, but Russian authorities on Sunday confirmed there were 10. The remains of six and one flight recorder have been located. Marines are clearing an area to be used as a helispot.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the New Indian Express:

…A Russian aviation agencies source told TASS news agency that the plane most likely lost control because of interference from hot air from the wildfire that it was trying to douse with water.

“It’s possible that hot air from the wildfires got into the engines, the plane lost propulsion and could not gain altitude, hit the top of the trees and fell,” the source was quoted as saying.

The plane’s tail was discovered by another firefighter on today morning, said the Russian forestry agency’s aviation unit.

Last week another firefighter died on duty in Russia’s far-eastern Kamchatka region, the regional government revealed.

The forestry agency’s aviation unit said today that over 43 thousand hectares of forest land is burning in Russia, mostly in Siberia.

But Russia’s Greenpeace which monitors wildfires via satellite data said government figures are vastly underestimated, with 415 thousand hectares burning in Irkutsk region alone.

Russian air tanker missing while fighting wildfire in Siberia

Above: file photo of IL-76TD by Shahram Sharifi

A very large air tanker that had been working on a wildfire in Siberia is missing. The IL-76, which can carry up to 15,000 U.S. gallons, had 11 on board, including “fire-fighting experts”, according to a report by Tass.

The air tanker departed at 5:34 a.m. Moscow time on Friday to assist firefighters on a fire in the Kachugsky district of the Irkutsk region. The crew did not make radio contact as planned at 6:30 a.m. Moscow time.

A search is underway assisted by two helicopters and an Antonov An-12 and An-26 of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

From Tass:

The crew members of the missing Il-76 plane are from Moscow and they have accumulated huge fire-fighting experience, a source in emergency services told TASS. “The crew members have a huge experience of fire-fighting operations, delivery of humanitarian relief supplies and other air rescue missions,” the source said.

Mine clearing missile reportedly used to help control wildfire in Russia

We can’t confirm that two UR-77 Meteorit missile-firing mine clearing vehicles were actually used to help control a wildfire in Siberia, but that is the report. The missile may be towing detonation cord, which is sometimes used by wildland firefighters to build fireline or to fell a dangerous snag.

Wildfire dispatching in Russia

В 2012 году была образована Федеральная диспетчерская служба лесного хозяйства. Сотрудники ФДС проводят ежедневный мониторинг лесопожарной обстановки на территории лесного фонда и землях иных категорий. Предоставляют полную информацию о динамике лесопожарной обстановки, наращивании сил и средств на тушение лесных пожаров в субъектах РФ для работы оперативного штаба Федерального агентства лесного хозяйства. Специалисты ФДС, также являются операторами Прямой линии лесной охраны, на которую по единому бесплатному номеру 8-800-100-94-00 в круглосуточном режиме наши граждане сообщают о различных происшествиях в лесу – возгораниях, незаконных рубках, свалках мусора и др., а также получают консультации по интересующим их вопросам. Лесники благодарят всех, кто не остался равнодушным и сообщил об увиденном дыме, свалке или незаконной рубке. #леснойпожар #лес #пламя #героизм #парашютисты #десантники #огонь #пожар #лесной_пожарный #Avialesookhrana #Forest #fire #firefighter #smokejumpers #лесныепожары #bomberos #авиация #firefighterslife #пламя #helicopter #aviation #aviales #экстрим #air #plane #sky #bombeiros #авиация #авиалесоохрана

A photo posted by Федеральная Авиалесоохрана (@avialesookhrana) on

Google’s machines translated the caption:

“avialesookhranaV 2012 Federal dispatch Forest Service was established. Employees FDR conducted daily monitoring of the forest fire situation in the territory of the forest and lands of other categories. It provides complete information on the dynamics of the forest fire situation, a buildup of forces and means for extinguishing forest fires in the regions of Russia for the operational staff of the Federal Forestry Agency.

FDR Specialists are also operators of hotline forest protection, which according to a single toll-free number 8-800-100-94-00 round the clock our citizens informed about various incidents in the forest -. Fire, illegal logging, garbage dumps, etc., and also receive advice on matters of mutual interest.

Foresters are grateful to all those who did not remain indifferent and told about what they saw smoke, landfill or illegal logging.
Lesnoypozhar # # # Forest flame heroism # # # paratroopers paratroopers fire # # # fire lesnoy_pozharny #Avialesookhrana #Forest #fire #firefighter #smokejumpers # lesnyepozhary #bomberos # Aviation #firefighterslife # flame #helicopter #aviation #aviales # extreme #air #plane #sky #bombeiros # # aviation Avialesookhrana”

And then there’s this, which appears to be about prescribed fire:

Google’s translation:

“We give the opportunity to burn a large forest debris (waste), releasing a fire in the forest. Then we bring down the flame
We give the opportunity to burn forest debris. We produce fire in the forest. then extinguish the flames
# # Avialesookhrana FFA KhMAO # # # Soviet Yugorsk #avialesookhrana #rosleshoz #hmao #smokejumpers #smokejumper #firefighter #firefighters #bomberos #russia #yugorsk #sovetskiy
patriotic.usMy God!”

Environmental activists estimate 7 million acres have burned in Siberia

Siberia fire
Photo by Anton Klimov

While the government of Siberia reported on May 26 that 319,000 acres (129,000 hectares) had burned this year, environmental activists insist the number is far higher. Greenpeace Russia believes officials and regional authorities intentionally announce figures that underestimate the scale of forest fires. Using open source satellite data, Greenpeace says about 7.4 million acres (3 million hectares) have burned as of May 23.

Below is an excerpt from an article at the Siberian Times:

…Rosleskhoz, the Federal Agency for Forestry, a federal executive body responsible for oversight of forestry issues, admitted that official figures from regions may be at odds with the actual area of raging fires. Among other reasons this could be ‘because of political factors’.

The agency promised to provide correct data about damage at the end of the [fire] season.

Nikolai Krotov, deputy head of Rosleskhoz, said: ‘We have concerns about differences in Amur region, Buryatia, Chelyabinsk and Irkutsk regions. We don’t rule out that there can be political factors, subjective factors, when information is submitted in a different way.’

Greenpeace has argued for information in real time, not at the end of the season, so fire-fighting resources can be switched between regions to be deployed in most needed areas.

Wildfires in Russia may be sending smoke to northern Canada, May 22, 2016
Early spring fires in Russia, April 1, 2016