Northeastern Siberia is a place where people take Arctic temperatures in stride. But 100-degree days are another matter entirely.


MAGARAS, Russia — The call for help lit up villagers’ phones at 7:42 on a muggy and painfully smoky evening on Siberia’s fast-warming permafrost expanse.

“We urgently ask all men to come to the town hall at 8,” read the WhatsApp message from the mayor’s office. “The fire has reached the highway.”

A farmer hopped on a tractor towing a big blue bag of water and trundled into a foreboding haze. The ever-thickening smoke cut off sunlight, and the wind whipped ash into his unprotected face. Flames along the highway glowed orange and hot, licking up the swaying roadside trees.

“We need a bigger tractor!” the driver soon yelled, aborting his mission and rushing back to town as fast as his rumbling machine could take him.

temperatures in the Russian Arctic have gone as high as 100 degrees, feeding enormous blazes that thaw what was once permanently frozen ground.