Wildfires strike early in Siberia

Wildfires strike early in Siberia


This image, acquired by the Copernicus Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B satellites on 20 June 2021, shows the Land Surface Temperature in the Sakha Republic in Arctic Siberia. 

Siberia, and in particular the Republic of Sakha, is experiencing a persistent heatwave. As the image shows, the land surface temperature has widely exceeded 35°C across Siberia, with peaks of 48°C near Verkhojansk, 43°C in Govorovo and 37°C in Saskylah. In Saskylah, on the day this image was acquired, a temperature of 31.9°C was recorded, the highest value since 1936.

The Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission consists of twin satellites, Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B, able of measuring thermal parameters of both terrestrial and marine environments. This specificity allows to derive parameters such as land surface temperatures over periods of time and compare them from year to year.

Warning: this data shows Land Surface Temperature not air temperature at ground level


Russia’s largest and coldest region is on fire – again, and this year wildfires strike early

Even school children are in firefighting brigades in some areas of Yakutia.

10 June 2021


Yakutia, Russia’s coldest and largest region, hit by spring and early summer wildfires

Two school boys aged 13 and 15 were seen working on the edge of a wildfire threatening their home village of Ynakhsyt, Nyurbinsky district in northwestern Yakutia. 

Local authorities tried to deny teenagers were involved, but later admitted parents allowed them to work alongside firefighters and volunteers.

The number of the wildfires in the Nyurbinsky district grew so fast due to a long spell of hot, windy and dry weather that a state of emergency was announced in the area, with calls for extra help in both manpower and equipment. 

Residents of at least two villages had to evacuate as wildfires got too close to their homes.

Early summer 2021 wildfires inferno in Yakutia, Russia’s coldest region

The republic’s authorities were accused of downplaying statistics on wildfires by a factor of between ten and twenty by Russia’s Federal Ministry of Nature.

‘The Republic of Yakutia claims that wildfires in Nyurbinsky district burn across 1,057 hectares, while our data shows that it’s over 20,000 hectares’, a statement from the Ministry of Nature said. 

Videos from Nyurbinsky district show local residents helplessly attempting to stop crown fires from the ground, then retreating as a mighty wall of fire towers in front of them. 

Early summer 2021 wildfires inferno in Yakutia, Russia's coldest region

Early summer 2021 wildfires inferno in Yakutia, Russia's coldest region

Wildfires rage in north-western Yakutia, with the first fires registered as early as beginning of May 2021

Several dozen firefighters and a Be-200 amphibious plane were sent from the Khabarovsk region to help struggling Yakutia, the world’s coldest inhabited region which straddles the Arctic Circle.

More than 4 kilometres of an underground fiber-optic telecom cable melted in Vilyuysky district wildfires, a short distance east from Nyurbinsky district. 

An emergency team was unable to fix the cable, because the site was still in the middle of wildfires, so some school students sat end-of-the-year exams with a patchy reserve connection. 

devastating damage to wildlife by early summer 2021 wildfires in Yakutia

Devastating damage to wildlife by summer-2021 wildfires in Yakutia. Picture: Ykt.top


Several hundred miles to the east from Nyurbinsky district, wildfires are threatening the settlement of Khandyga on river Aldan with more than 6,000 residents. 

The evacuation warning was issued by the republic’s ministry of emergencies, urging everyone to be ready to either fight the fire or flee.

The first Arctic wildfires were registered in Yakutia north of Srednekolymsk on the Kolyma River at the beginning of June, a month earlier than last year. 

Early in May wildfires were spotted outside Oymyakon, the world’s coldest permanently inhabited place. 

Nearly 70% of all Russia’s wildfires last year were in Yakutia, reported the Ministry of Nature, with over six million hectares of forests and fields burnt in 2020.

Last year’s long and very intense wildfire season started a vicious circle with deposits of peat catching fire, and burning even during the coldest days of winter – to then reignite again once the snow melted. 

The Siberian Times reported on the peat fire continuing to burn all through rainy and cold autumn, and then at winter temperatures of -50C in northeastern Yakutia. 


This headline is from this time last year.

Wildfires ‘critical’ in Siberia and Russian Far East, up to ten times worse than last year

In Krasnoyarsk region ten times as much territory was ablaze compared to the same time last year, in Trans-Baikal region three times as much land is hit amounting to 200,000 hectares, in the Amur Region the number of outbreaks increased by one and a half times. Pictures from the Republic of Tuva by Tuva Ministry of Emergencies


This article is from the end of January. Fires that were ten times as bad as the year before have never gone out but continued to burn underneath the snow in a very cold winter.


  • Peat fires continue to burn at air temperature of -50C in northeastern Yakutia
  • Pillars of smoke filmed over the areas hit by last summer’s wildfires despite the current long spell of extremely cold weather.

Zombie fires in northeastern Yakutia, Russia’s largest and coldest inhabited region. Picture: The Siberian Times


Siberian Times,

27 January, 2021

The latest sighting of winter – zombie – fires was recorded on 23 January by the village of Saydy in the Tomponsky district of Yakutia, some 400km north-east of the republic’s capital Yakutsk. 

Local man Ivan Zakharov who filmed the fire at -50C told The Siberian Times: ‘It is burning near the area hit by last summer’s wildfires.

‘This area suffered extremely hot and dry weather. It must be either peat on fire here, or, as some hunters who noticed these fires suggest, possibly young coal (lignite).’


Peat fires continue to burn at air temperature of -50C in northeastern Yakutia

Peat fires continue to burn at air temperature of -50C in northeastern Yakutia

Peat fires continue to burn at air temperature of -50C in northeastern Yakutia

Peat fires continue to burn at air temperature of -50C in northeastern Yakutia
Winter fire by the village of Saydy in the Tomponsky district of Yakutia, some 400km north-east of the republic’s capital Yakutsk and, below, summer wildfires in the same area. Video, pictures: The Siberian Times

A much bigger burning area was filmed higher up north from Saydy by the village of Udarnik, also badly hit by wildfires last summer.

‘The fire is burning in the area close to the village of Udarnik. The summer fire didn’t stop.

‘The filming was made in November, but as the local tell us, several fires are still active’, reported Tomponsky Vestnik newspaper that shared the video. 


Last summer Republic of Yakutia, Russia’s largest and coldest region was hit by some of the worst wildfires in history, following the spell of extremely hot and dry weather.

Wildfires were raging all around its territory, with a massive blanket of smoke visible from space in the far north beside the Arctic Ocean.

Some were in the areas too remote to reach, but many got dangerously close to populated areas like the Arctic town of Chersky, a gateway to Pleistocene Park, an experimental scientific base aiming to show how the release of carbon can be slowed by restoring the flora to grassland as it was in the era of the extinct woolly mammoth. 

‘We didn’t have wildfires reaching this far north to our area for many years’, said scientist Nikita Zimov, director of Pleistocene Park. ‘Last time it was this bad forty years ago in the 80s’. 

This winter is the coldest in Yakutia since 2006, with air temperatures going as low as -59C during peak days, and record cold weather holding on for weeks all through December 2020, and January 2021. 

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