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Fire

Public calamity decreed in Portugal as wildfires continue to rage out of control

© AP Photo/Armando Franca
A man runs with a water hose as villagers join firefighters battling a forest fire coming close to houses in the village of Chao de Codes, near Macao, central Portugal, Wednesday, Aug. 16 2017.
The government of Portugal has issued a state of public calamity as wildfires continue to burn across the country ahead of a weekend heat wave.

More than 10,000 separate fires have been recorded across Portugal this year according to The Portugal News.

While most of them have been associated with human negligence, rounds of intense heat and prolonged drought conditions have made the situation more serious than recent years.

The fires over the past week have injured 86 people, seven seriously, according to the Associated Press. The combination of high temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds will create a scenario for dangerous wildfire conditions from Saturday into Monday.

The worst conditions are expected on Sunday as temperatures approach 40 C (104 F) across parts of the interior.

Northern and central interior areas will be at highest risk for new wildfires into early next week.

Temperatures will remain well above normal on Monday before falling back to near normal by Wednesday and Thursday lowering the wildfire threat.

Wildfires have burned roughly 141,000 hectares (350,000) acres this year, nearly 500 percent above the average over the past 10 years, according to the Institute for Forests and Nature Conservation.

Comment: A record number of 220 wildfires were recorded in one day last week in Portugal.


Fire

2017 is British Columbia's worst wildfire season on record

© Darryl Dyck
The 2017 wildfire season is officially the worst on record in British Columbia.

The B.C. Wildfire Service said Wednesday that a total of 1,026 wildfires have razed nearly 8,950 square kilometres, surpassing the old record of 8,560 square kilometres set in 1958.

The majority of the activity has occurred in the province's Cariboo region where fires have destroyed more than 6,700 square kilometres.

B.C. Wildfire Service spokesman Kevin Skrepnek says there are still 142 fires currently burning in the province.

"Most of those are the major fires that started on July 7, we have done a good job at getting on new fires quickly and keeping them small," he said.


Fire

Firefighters battle wildfires across Greece

© Getty Images
Members of the fire department battled to try and extinguish a forest fire in the Kalamos region of Athens, Greece, on Monday
Firefighters battled more than 90 forest fires across Greece on Monday, an outbreak fed by dry winds and hot weather that saw blazes burning near Athens, in the Peloponnese, and on the Ionian islands of Zakynthos and Kefalonia.

The fire near Athens was burning unchecked for a second day, damaging dozens of homes. It had started in Kalamos, a coastal holiday spot some 45 km (30 miles) northeast of the capital, and spread overnight to three more towns. A state of emergency was declared in the area.

On Zakynthos, an island popular with foreign tourists, several fires continued to burn for a fourth day and authorities declared a state of emergency. One minister said those fires had been set deliberately.

"It's arson according to an organized plan," Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis, who is the MP for Zakythnos, told state TV when asked to comment on the dozen fires burning on the island. "There is no doubt about it."

It is not clear what caused the fires, and no investigation has begun into possible arson. Late July and August often see a outbreaks of forest and brush fires in Greece, where high temperatures help create tinder-box conditions.


Comment: Record number of 220 wildfires recorded in one day for Portugal


Fire

Record number of 220 wildfires recorded in one day for Portugal

Portugal is fighting to put out a spate of wildfires after the southern European country hit a year high of outbreaks for a single day on Friday, authorities say.

Portugal's Civil Protection Agency, which coordinates its firefighting efforts, said Saturday that it recorded a record for this year of 220 separate wildfires on Friday.

Over 2,500 firefighters supported by over 800 vehicles and 15 air units were still mobilized on Saturday morning to combat the flames.

Portugal has been hard hit by wildfires, including one that killed 64 people in June, during a summer marked by high temperatures and a lack of rain.

Wildfires in Portugal this year have accounted for more than one-third of the burnt forest in the entire 28-country European Union.


Source: Associated Press.

Fire

Satellite captures epic scale of Greenland inferno in intricate detail

© Deimos Imaging, an UrtheCast Company
Mesmerizing satellite images of a massive wildfire in Greenland have been captured from space.

While the wildfire could possibly be the biggest in the icy country's history, their satellite records go back only as far as the year 2000, and it's "certainly the biggest one" in that respect, said remote-sensing scientist Stef Lhermitte, speaking to New Scientist.

Wildfires in Greenland, which is mostly associated with snow, are not unusual. In fact, the region experienced similar wildfires in both August 2016 and 2015, but "2017 is exceptional in the number of active fire detections," Professor Lhermitte tweeted.

Comment: Unusual wildfires are burning in Greenland


Fire

Unusual wildfires are burning in Greenland


Satellite photo of one of the wildfires burning in Greenland August 3, 2017. Sentinel-2A data from the European Union Earth Observation Programme.
Historically, wildfires in Greenland occur infrequently.

Three-quarters of Greenland is covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside Antarctica, and permafrost is found on most of the rest of the island. These are reasons why it is very unusual, and possibly unprecedented, that two wildfires are burning on the giant island.

The fires are near Sisimiut in Western Greenland north of the Arctic Circle at 66.9 and 67.8 degrees north latitude, which compares to the "Far North" area of Alaska near the Brooks Range.

According to Danish and Greenlandic news reports, they were first spotted from an airplane piloted by Per Mikkelsen who took photos of the fires. The weather forecast for the area indicates no rain in the next 10 days.

"These fires appear to be peatland fires, as there are low grass, some shrub, and lots of rocks on the western edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet", Jessica L. McCarty, an Assistant Professor of Geography at Miami University told us Monday. She continued, "They are likely occurring in areas of degraded permafrost, which are predicted to have high thaw rates between now and 2050 with some evidence of current melt near Sisimiut. Fires in the High Northern Latitudes release significant CO2, CH4, N20, and black carbon. A fire this close to the Greenland Ice Shelf is likely to deposit additional black carbon on the ice, further speeding up the melt. More on black carbon deposition in Greenland from wildland fires can be found here."

"The European Union Earth Observation Programme has stated that wildfires in Greenland are rare but have no data on previous wildland fire activity in this region", Ms. McCarty said.

Comment: Preliminary analysis suggests that MODIS has detected an exceptional increase of fire activity in Greenland in 2017 compared with previous years since the sensor began collecting data in 2002.
One factor for this sharp increase could be outgassing, possibly 'sparked' by an increase in atmospheric electric discharge events, such as lightning strikes and other 'cosmic' ignition sources?

Last year a rare winter wildfire ignited in Alaska, despite a foot of snow on the ground and forest fires broke out in Switzerland (in the dead of winter!)

Last month mysterious plumes of steam were recorded rising from a Greenland glacier which may be another sign of powerful geothermal activity from below. See also:

SOTT Exclusive: The growing threat of underground fires and explosions


Fire

Lightning caused 19 fires in 24 hours across Manitoba


A forest fire near Norway House, Man. is shown in this photo from 2008.
Lightning is to blame for 19 fires that started across the province in a 24-hour time period on Saturday, the province said.

All of these fires are north of Winnipeg, with most originating in the northwest part of the province.

As of yesterday, the province said there were 85 active forest fires, with four still burning out of control.

A total of 257 forest fires have been recorded by the province this year, with 170 of them caused by lightning, and the other 87 caused by humans, as of Saturday.

The province is advising people to use extra caution when partaking in any outdoor activities in forested areas.

Fire

Wildfire covers 110 square kilometres in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia; closes large stretch of highway


Verdant Creek Wildlfire
The highway that winds through British Columbia's Kootenay National Park was closed for much of the day Wednesday as wildfire smoke made for dangerous driving conditions.

Parks Canada said it closed Highway 93 from Castle Junction near the Trans-Canada Highway to the town of Radium Hot Springs some 100 kilometres south.

The highway reopened late Wednesday but drivers were being warned that with shifting conditions, there was always the possibility they would be forced to detour again.

On Thursday afternoon, Parks Canada issued a news release suggesting that the best time to travel the highway over the long weekend would be between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The agency also told motorists to check for possible temporary closures at either www.DriveBC.ca or www.alberta511.ca.

Parks incident commander Jane Park said the smoke was extremely dense in some areas.


Fire

New wildfires continue to break out in France and Portugal

© AFP/Getty Images
At least 10,000 people were forced to leave the beach at Bormes-les-Mimosas on Tuesday night.
New fires keep breaking out in the south of France and in central Portugal as tourists flee in the thousands.

Firefighters, who have now been battling the flames for four days in France, said that while they were getting the inferno under control, new blazes keep breaking out.

The situation is also said to be improving slightly in central Portugal, where fires raged across large areas of tinder-dry forest on Wednesday.

But the blazes in the country have already left more than 60 people dead.

Fire

Forest fires in Indonesia: 5 provinces declare state of emergency

© Antara Foto
Resident drives motorcycle through haze as peatland fires at Suak Raya village in Aceh Barat, Indonesia Aceh province, Jul 24, 2017
Five Indonesian provinces have declared states of emergency as peatlands burn in Aceh and the risk of fires spreading elsewhere increases during the annual dry season, an official said Wednesday.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 18 helicopters have been deployed to help extinguish fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Satellite images show that the number of fires increased from 150 on Sunday to 179 on Tuesday, he said.

Nugroho said the provinces of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan have declared emergencies in anticipation of a worsening of the fires and to mitigate the choking smoke that peatlands generate when burned.