The natural causes of fires are lightning and spontaneous combustion of dry vegetation, which is caused by high temperatures and dry conditions. Following droughts, the undergrowth is rich in twigs and other dry biomass that represent a dangerous accumulation of flammable material, as do abandoned crop fields.
Every year many hectares of forest and savannah are destroyed all around the world, with consequences on the entire ecosystem (human life, animal/plant habitats, carbon cycle disturbance, property loss etc.) Some areas of the world are particularly prone to such hot and dry conditions, and wildfires and forest fires are common each summer.
Prevention and early warning are the only means of reducing these costs. Satellite data can rapidly provide a general overview of the situation over large areas of terrain, detect fires, identify risk areas and finally assess the damage by mapping the extent of the burned areas.
Wildfires struck Siberia during October 2011, in what was described as one of the worst fires in Russia that year. Over a hundred hectares of forest burned while over a thousand firefighters battled the blazes.
A forest fire broke out on the Croatian island of Brac in July 2011. 4000 hectares were affected and dozens of livestock were reported killed.
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