From Sardinia to Siberia, the fires that are ravaging the Earth

From Sardinia to Siberia, the fires that are ravaging the Earth

From Sardinia to Siberia

Canada, the United States and South Africa are also hit by fires that are burning hectares of forests and endangering towns and cities

Firefighters in action in the province of Oristano (Photo: Fire Brigade) Two hundred people in Santu Lussurgiu, 150 in Cuglieri, 400 in Scano Montiferro: in Sardinia over 1,500 have had to abandon their homes, fleeing the fire that is ravaging the area of ​​the Montiferru massif, in the Oristano area. An army of over 7,500 people, including forestry corps, firefighters, civil protection, volunteers, the Red Cross and law enforcement officers, fought against the flames. But despite the massive deployment of forces, the fire continues to advance, fueled by summer temperatures and strong winds.

Sardinia is not the only place hit by fires. From Siberia to Canada, from the United States to South Africa, fire continues to ravage the planet. Blame for climate change, of course, which in many areas of the world are increasingly creating the perfect conditions for similar disasters. After a 2020 to forget, let's see which are the worst fires that broke out this year at the moment.

The fire in Sardinia

For the moment, the fire in the Oristano area has devastated about 25 thousand hectares of woods and pastures, closely threatening many small towns in the area. This is the largest fire this year on the island, but it is not the only one: in total, in fact, the territory destroyed by the flames since the beginning of the year has already reached 40 thousand hectares, classifying 2021 as one of the worst vintages of the last decades.

The fire broke out on Saturday, in an area between the towns of Bonarcado and Santo Lussugiu. A stretch of hinterland that was already the protagonist of a similar disaster in 1996, when a fire (arson in that case) wiped out the woods of Seneghe, Bonarcado, Cuglieri, Santu Lussurgiu and Scano Montiferro, but stopped at about 12 thousand hectares of burnt land. The origins of this year's fire are not yet known, but whether it was a deliberate act, some inexperienced peasant struggling with stubble (out of season), a cigarette or a natural trigger, it doesn't matter.

What is certain is that a correct maintenance of the territories (with the thinning of the bushes and the cleaning of the flame-break areas that should contain the spread of fire in the event of fires) would have made the situation much less dramatic. Just last June 7, a citizens' committee had asked the mayor of Cuglieri (one of the towns in the area most affected by the fires) to provide the necessary interventions for the safety of the territory. But obviously it was not enough.

The flames in Siberia

If the 40 thousand hectares burned in Sardinia are an important area for our country, they pale in the face of news coming from Russia. In Siberia, and more precisely in the Sacha area (or Yakutia, more familiar to Risiko lovers), since the beginning of summer the flames have devoured a million and a half hectares of woods, driven by record temperatures that have held for days the thermometers around 39 degrees centigrade.

The flames have reached several cities in the region, forcing the government to block flights departing and arriving from the airport of the capital of Sacha, Yakutsk. The Russian aviation attempted to contain the spread of the fires by unloading over 36 tons of water on the flames, and also using the insemination of clouds, which should have triggered heavy rains in the area (practically absent this year since the beginning of the summer). For now, however, nothing seems capable of stopping the colossal fire.

In addition to the environmental damage and dangers for the people in the area, the fires that hit the Siberian taiga are particularly damaging for another reason: they release in the 'atmosphere huge quantities of carbon dioxide stored in the soil (often composed of peat) and vegetation, and can often survive the arrival of winter by burning underground, invisible, ready to return to the surface with the arrival of the first heat of the season summer.

Canada's dramatic 2021

The anomalous heat wave that hit Canada at the end of June didn't just cause deaths caused by record temperatures, close to 50 degrees. The raging climate created the perfect conditions for fires. As of July 14, Canadian forestry authorities already counted 226 uncontrolled fires active throughout the country, with a peak in the areas of British Columbia hit by the heat wave, where the entire town of Lytton (small town 240 kilometers from Vancouver) was destroyed by flames, forcing the evacuation of the 250 inhabitants.

If for Canada (a country that hosts about 9% of the world's forests) summer fires are nothing new, 2021 however, it is proving to be particularly dramatic, with 3,925 fires recorded to date, which place the current year on numbers well above the average of the last decade, and mark an increase of 450% compared to 2020.

The column of smoke in the United States

The state of Oregon is currently affected by the largest active fire on American soil. The flames started from Klamath County on 6 July, possibly due to lightning, and found the perfect conditions to spread. At the moment, they have already devastated an area of ​​over 165 thousand hectares, and are putting a strain on the attempts to contain the 20 thousand firefighters mobilized by the American authorities, due to the dry climate and strong winds that continue to fuel them.

The smoke raised by this massive fire is visible (and smelled) from New York, thousands of miles away. And the Bootleg fire (as it was dubbed by the American media) is unfortunately not the only active fire in the States: the federal authorities currently count 86, for a total of over 600 thousand hectares in flames.

The case of South Africa

If in size it is not comparable to the fires described so far, the one that broke out in April in the Table Mountain National Park, near Cape T own, the second most populous city in South Africa, has nevertheless left an indelible mark in the history of the country. Expanding towards the outskirts of the city, it encountered the structures of the University of Cape Town on its way, damaging the historic Jagger Library, a library from the early 1930s which housed an important collection of African works and documents relating to the history of country.

The fire-fighting system of the structure seems to have mitigated the damage, but the university has confirmed that part of the archive is irreparably destroyed. A few months earlier, another major fire had affected the area, burning over 13,000 hectares of forest in the mountains near Cape Town, and injuring some of the firefighters who intervened to tame it.

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