Satellite photos of wildfires in Siberia

Two photos taken May 9 by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel 2 satellite of wildfires in Siberia highlight flames, and in the other, smoke. The sensors used were RGB-natural color and SWIR-enhanced infrared.

On that date wildfires blazed in Russia’s Far East around Komsomolsk-on-Amur, a city of nearly 264,000. The Siberian Times published images of the fires.

ESA satellite photo wildfire siberia

Numerous wildfires burning in Russia’s Amur province

Above:  NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite captured this natural-color image of smoke streaming from wildfires on April 4, 2018. Recently charred areas appear black. Rivers, still ice-covered, are white. Heat at the fires is represented by red dots.

NASA reports on wildfires in Russia seen from space:


As is often the case in the spring, satellites detected dozens of fires burning in Russia’s far eastern Amur province in late-March 2018. Fires usually flare up around the time that the winter snow cover melts.

The fires were initially quite small. Most of them were probably lit by people, mainly to burn dried grasses and old crop debris from fields. People in the area routinely light fires in the spring to fertilize the soil, maintain pasturelands, and prevent forest encroachment.

Many of the fires near the Amur and Zeya rivers spread rapidly over the following week. By April, several were raging out of control—in some cases burning through forests. Dahurian larch dominates forests in Amur, though deciduous trees such as birch and aspen are also common.

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this natural-color image of smoke streaming from several fires on April 4, 2018. Recently charred areas appear black. Rivers, still ice-covered, are white.

Hundreds of firefighters are working in the region, according to news reports. However, the fires are proving difficult to control and have spread about 20,000 hectares (80 square miles) per day. On April 5, authorities reported extinguishing 15 fires, but 23 new fires emerged on the same day.

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.