This will not be long -- and certainly not scholarly -- but there has been so little coverage of these fires, which are on a scale that dwarfs those in Colorado, that I felt someone ought to draw some little attention to them. I found out about them first while reading Die Zeit, which is just possibly Germany's most erudite and most highly respected weekly paper. I've translated bits of the article, which I'll quote below the dipsy-doodle squiggle.
Across vast stretches of Siberia, forests and dried-out moorlands have been burning for weeks. The fire storm is now sweeping through the largest district of Krasnoyarsk, but the regions of Tuva, Irkutsk, Tomsk, and the Republic of Chacassia are also affected. More than a hundred fires are raging across an area from the border with Mongolia in the south and well into central Siberia. Many people have died in the flames.This is a huge area. We're not talking about a few scores of square miles but thousands.
In many places the fire is clearly out of control. However, so far the world community has scarcely taken any notice of it at all. The Russian government has only published sparse information thus far; environmentalists believe the numbers regarding the size of this natural catastrophe to be grossly underestimated.I suppose this is typical: in a country where information has often been very closely controlled and in a region with a very small, scattered population, news is slow to leak out.
The situation appears dramatic: today the Russian Catastrophe Protection Center, Emercom, said that within 24 hours more than 130 new fires have broken out. Other media reported more than 180 fires several days ago.If the Novosti figure is correct, the area in flame is utterly unfathomable. Here are a couple links to Novosti's English-language reports that Google News dug up:
The size of the affected area is difficult to determine. While many sources speak of 15,000 to 23,000 hectares (48-89 sq. miles), RIA-Novosti, a state media organ, told a Greenpeace activist that it believes an area of 11 million hectares (42,470 sq miles) is more realistic.
There are also some NASA links, but I'm pressed for time right now.
One further note: I have not found the 42,490 square mile quote in any of the English-language reports, only in the German article. Unfortunately, I neither speak nor read Russian, so I can't attack the search that way. Maybe others here can. In any event, I think we can be happy that our fires have not been this severe.