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Siberian Wildfires Light Up U.S. West Coast

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Residents of North America's West Coast have been enjoying some spectacular red sunsets recently — thanks to wildfires raging in Siberia.

Smoke from the Siberian wildfires has crossed the Pacific Ocean and contributed to a series of spectacular sunsets in the Northwest of the United States and Canada's British Columbia, MSNBC television reported.

NASA scientist Colin Seftor explains how the phenomenon occurred.

"The smoke plumes were lofted up to at least 12 kilometers from the intense heat of the fires. … At that point the smoke got picked up by higher-level winds," Seftor said in a NASA news release. The smoke then made its way across the ocean, resulting in the spectacular sunsets.

Images captured by NASA's Terra satellite Monday show dozens of fires burning between the Maya and Aldan rivers in the Sakha republic.

"It isn't uncommon for smoke from large wildfires in Siberia to be lofted high enough into the atmosphere that winds push plumes of it across the Pacific Ocean to North America," NASA noted on its Earth Observatory site Monday.

Firefighters in the Siberian Federal District continue to battle wildfires. They said Thursday that they had been able to extinguish 27 separate blazes over the past 24 hours, reducing the area of burning land from 16,900 hectares to 10,200, RIA-Novosti reported.

The fire season has been particularly difficult for Russia this year, and authorities declared a state of emergency last month in seven federal subjects inRussia's eastern andfar eastern territories as many intentional burns spiraled out of control.

States of emergency are still in force in all of the Tyva republic and the Tomsk region and in one district of the Irkutsk region. A state of emergency in the Krasnoyarsk region was canceled Wednesday.

Meanwhile, special fire-suppression measures are in force across all of the Novosibirsk region, the Altai republic and the Zabaikalsky region and in several districts of the Buryatia republic and the Irkutsk and Omsk regions. More than 200,000 hectares of forest have been burned since the start of the summer, RIA-Novosti said.

Grigory Kuksin, head of Greenpeace Russia's wildfire program, said that interms ofland ravaged byfires, already by June the 2012 fires had been more severe than those in 2010, when drought inwestern Russia caused wildfires brought choking smog toMoscow.