Russian officials announced that twenty-one forest fires were burning on May 17 on a total of over 3,000 hectares, with 2,600 hectares blazing in Buryatia and almost 500 hectares in Khabarovsk territory. Three new fires were seen in Tunkinsky National Park in the past 24 hours alone. In Buryatia, over 400 forest fires have burned more than 30,000 hectares of forest since the beginning of spring this year.
Spring fires are filling the skies of eastern Asia with a thick blanket of smoke. The fires are numerous, but the smoke is extremely heavy throughout the region. Fires may produce large amounts of smoke when they burn moist fuel. It can be speculated that the melting of the thick winter snows has moistened the leaf litter on the ground. The high temperatures of the large wildfires may have ignited the damp organic matter lying on the forest floor, creating copious amounts of smoke as they burn as ground fires. Whatever the cause of the heavy smoke, the entire region lies under a gray veil, and smoke has been seen as far north as the Bering Sea. (MODIS)
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