It was one of those rare occasions when solar physicists were able to see a flaring event near the surface of the sun and follow its effects all the way into our atmosphere.
But could this solar storm (and others following it) have heated up our atmosphere so much that it created conditions conducive to forest fires in Russia? In a word: no.
But there is a scenario where the secondary effects of a solar storm could spark a fire if the conditions are already hot and dry enough.
Solar storms can pose a threat to our ever increasing dependence on sensitive electronics and communication networks. Also, through electrical currents generated in the upper atmosphere during these events, national power grids can be overloaded, leading to widespread blackouts.
The Russian fires were raging long before the CME interacted with our atmosphere, so the theory that the solar storm had something to do with these wildfires is already terribly wrong.
Although the solar storm/wildfire link is weak - CMEs don't alter climate systems and they don't act like a cosmic blowtorch - there is one situation where a solar storm onset could spark fires.
On Sept. 1-2, 1859, our planet was hit by the largest recorded solar storm. The "Carrington Event" was named after English amateur astronomer Richard Carrington who observed some extreme sunspot activity erupt on the sun. A day later, aurorae erupted and could be seen as far south as Hawaii - a sign of intense magnetospheric activity.
The CME that hit Earth was obviously something unprecedented, something that hasn't hit the Earth since. Powerful electrical currents were generated through our atmosphere, overloading telegraph networks. These basic networks overloaded, sparking and failing.
So, like lightning strikes can cause fires in dry, wooded regions, it is conceivable that a powerful CME could overload unprotected and isolated power lines, causing sparking and starting fires.
There is no indication that any recent CME - let alone the Aug. 4 solar storm - has been powerful enough to spark wildfires, the record high temperatures and sustained drought amplified by climate change has provided the ideal fire conditions. All that was needed was a spark and the crisis took care of itself.