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Mon, 19 Feb 2018
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Fire

Unusual wildfires are burning in Greenland

Greenland wildfires

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.

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

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

Bormes-les-Mimosas beach wildfire
© 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

Resident drives motorcycle through haze as peatland fires at Suak Raya village in Aceh Barat, Indonesia Aceh province, Jul 24, 2017
© 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.


Fire

Ecological catastrophe: Thousands forced to evacuate as massive wildfires rage across French Riviera and Corsica

View France wildfires Saint-Tropez
© Valery Hache / AFP
People enjoy the beach as they look at a forest fire in La Croix-Valmer, near Saint-Tropez, on July 25, 2017

Thousands of people including holidaymakers have been evacuated in southern France as massive wildfires rage across the French Riviera and Corsica. Locals and authorities say the areas affected by the fires resemble "apocalyptic scenes."

"The evacuations, at least 10,000, followed the progression of the fire. It's an area that doubles or triples its population in summer," a fire service official told AFP near the Bormes-les-Mimosas commune in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of southeast France.

Comment: Locals and tourists alike have been forced to camp out on area beaches as the flames rage near St. Tropez. More photos can be found here.
wildfires French Riviera July 2017

Thousands of tourists were forced onto the beaches last night as wildfires tore along the southern French coast

wildfires French Riviera July 2017

Firefighters face a daunting task with many hundreds of hectares engulfed by the inferno

Wildfires French Riviera July 2017

Dramatic pictures show the raging inferno tearing through the forest
Wildfires French Riviera July 2017

Huge swathes of land were left a charred wasteland after the fires had passed



Fire

Largest active US wildfire burns 250,000 acres in Montana

Cattle are seen near the flames of the Lodgepole Complex fire in Garfield County, Montana
© Pete McFadden / Reuters
Cattle are seen near the flames of the Lodgepole Complex fire in Garfield County, Montana, U.S. July 21, 2017.
Over 600 firefighters from 34 states have gathered in eastern Montana's Garfield County to help stop the spread of what is now the largest active fire in the US.

On Tuesday, more than 600 firefighters began fighting the raging Lodgepole Complex fire that has destroyed 250,000 acres of range, brush and timber close to the Missouri River, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center, which gives logistical support for wildland firefighting. The fire has ravaged 22 structures, according to Reuters.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock (R) issued a state fire emergency executive order on Sunday for the wildfire that started last week after a lightning strike. Fortunately, the fire was growing Tuesday at slower rate than previously.

Fire

79 wildfires sparked by lightning in 24 hours hit Northern California

A lightning map from Blitzortung shows lightning strikes around the west from Sunday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon.

A lightning map from Blitzortung shows lightning strikes around the west from Sunday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon.
As hundreds of lightning bolts strike the region, CAL FIRE is staffing its lookout towers and sending planes into the air to scour the region for plumes of smoke signaling fires.

"We're out there scanning the area and any smokes that develop we have our resources that can address it," says Cal Fire spokesperson Scott McLean.

From Monday morning through Tuesday morning, 79 fires were counted in Lassen, Modoc and Siskyou counties by CAL FIRE and the U.S. Forest Service, and lightning was likely the cause of most of them, says McLean.

While the conditions are extreme, it could be a lot worse. "This a combination of dry and wet lightning so we have some moisture follow through," McLean says. "In 2008, there were a lot more fires started by lightning."

In 2008, thousands of lightning strikes resulted in 191,294 acres burning.

Fire

Wildfires rage through the French Riviera, Corsica and Portugal; residents flee

water drop
© EPA
A firefighting helicopter drops water over a forest fire in Carros near Nice, southern France, as blazes broke across the French Riveria.
Actress Joan Collins is among the Saint-Tropez residents were have been forced to flee from their villas as huge fires ripped through the French Riviera and across southern Europe.

Large forest blazes in the French Riviera, Corsica and Portugal were sparked by heatwaves across the sun-kissed region, which is already teeming with British tourists ahead of the busy summer holiday period.

Homes and holiday resorts were under threat as fires sporadically broke out across the continent, with emergency services rushing to evacuate buildings amid fears that high winds could add to the chaos and spread of fire.

As tourists continued to sunbathe on the beaches, hundreds of firefighters tackled a blaze spanning 2,000 acres around the Var prefecture. Two villas were destroyed in La Croix Valmer, seven miles west of the glamorous holiday destination.

British actress Joan Collins, 84, told Twitter followers she was one of 11 who fled from the house last night and later claimed the massive blaze had been caused by someone's barbecue.

Fire

Massive forest fires force French Riviera residents to flee homes

Dramatic pictures show flames and massive clouds of smoke from an inferno ripping through woodland near the upmarket French resort of Saint-Tropez. This was the scene in the hills of Gigaro in La Croix-Valmer near the glamorous town

Dramatic pictures show flames and massive clouds of smoke from an inferno ripping through woodland near the upmarket French resort of Saint-Tropez. This was the scene in the hills of Gigaro in La Croix-Valmer near the glamorous town
A huge fire has hit the French Riviera with the blaze forcing residents to flee homes in the Saint Tropez region.

Photos shared on social media show large plumes of smoke above the hills above the posh beach resort region.

One resident, Paul Adieannsens, tweeted: "Big fire in La Croix Valmer.

"Just made it to escape from our house!"

The location of the fire has been described as southeast of the main St Tropez township near the town of Ramatuelle.