Wildfires have erupted across the globe, scorching places that rarely burned before

Updated 6:16 AM ET, Thu July 22, 2021

(CNN)Yakutsk in Russian Siberia is known as the world's coldest city. In a place where even an exposed nose during the winter months can cause biting pain, people are accustomed to taking precautions against freezing temperatures, including spending extra time in the morning to dress in many layers.

But now the city is blanketed in haze as nearby wildfires tear through forests that have been parched by weeks of heatwaves. The fires are so big, and the winds strong, smoke is traveling as far away as Alaska.
In the US, the Bootleg wildfire in Oregon has grown into a monstrous complex with its own weather, sending the dense smoke some 3,000 miles across one end of the continent to the other. New York City on Wednesday woke up to an intense red sunrise, the smell of wildfires and a thick brown haze.
Firefighters in both countries, as well as British Columbia in Canada, are fighting a near-impossible battle to smother the infernos with water bombs and hoses, and preventing their spread by digging firebreaks.
An aerial view shows a wildfire in Yakutia, Russia.
Wildfires burning out of control across the western US send haze across the continent to New York City, on July 20.
The smoke in the republic of Yukutia in Siberia was so thick on Tuesday that reconnaissance pilot Svyatoslav Kolesov couldn't do his job. There was no way he could fly his plane in such poor visibility.
Kolesov is a senior air observation post pilot in the far eastern Russian region of Yakutia. This part of Siberia is prone to wildfires, with large parts of the region covered in forests. But Kolesov told CNN the blazes are different this year.
"New fires have appeared in the north of Yakutia, in places where there were no fires last year and where it had not burned at all before," he said.
Kolesov is seeing first hand what scientists have been warning about for years. Wildfires are becoming larger and more intense and they are also happening in places that aren't used to them.
"The fire season is getting longer, the fires are getting larger, they're burning more intensely than ever before," said Thomas Smith, an assistant professor in Environmental Geography at the London School of Economics.
Employees of the forest protection service Yakutlesresurs rest as they dig a firebreak moat to stop a fire outside Magaras village in Yakutia.
Many factors, like poor land management, play a role in wildfires, but climate change is making them more frequent and intense. Most of Europe, the Western US, southwest Canada and some regions of South America experienced drier-than-average conditions in June, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, making tinderboxes of forests.
The wildfires in Yakutia have consumed more than 6.5 million acres since the beginning of the year,​ according to figures published by the country's Aerial Forest Protection Service. That's nearly 5 million football fields.
Trees burn along Highway 89 during the Tamarack Fire in the Californian city of Markleeville on July 17.
In Oregon, eight fires have burned nearly 475,000 acres so far, in a fire season officials said was unlike any they've seen before. The Bootleg Fire is so large and generating so much energy and extreme heat that it's creating its own clouds and thunderstorms.
The Canadian province of British Columbia declared an emergency due to wildfires there effective Wednesday. Nearly 300 active wildfires have been reported in the province.