‘Extreme’ forest fires in central Russia

“Extreme” forest fires were raging in parts of central Russia on Wednesday, amid a heat wave after fires that ravaged Siberia for much of the summer.

Fifteen forest fires

In the Sverdlovsk region of the Urals, firefighters were battling fifteen forest fires, and an alert of “extreme fire danger” was given there, according to the Russian Emergency Ministry.

In images posted on social networks Tuesday, we could see the fire raging on both sides of a federal highway that connects Yekaterinburg, the main city in the region, to Perm, another large metropolitan area. According to local media, the authorities had to close the highway for much of the day on Tuesday.

In Mordovia, a region south-east of Moscow, around fifty firefighters this week found themselves in the middle of a “ring of fire” while they were fighting a fire in a nature reserve. They took several hours to escape, the local office of the Ministry of Emergency Situations said in a statement on Wednesday.

Putin announces 300 million to protect forests

In the Nizhny Novgorod region, east of Moscow, nine planes dispatched by the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Defense and the National Guard to fight the fires poured 129 tons of water in an attempt to control a major forest fire that was spreading towards neighboring Mordovia. Some 1,200 firefighters were also deployed there, according to the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Tuesday to “learn the lessons” from the fires that have ravaged Siberia for several months, by allocating nearly three hundred million euros to protect forests.

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Fires have ravaged an area larger than Portugal

Siberia has experienced major fires for several years, the intensity of which is more severe each summer, a phenomenon that experts attribute to climate change, but also to insufficient protection of Russian forests. In Yakutia, in northern Siberia, Russia’s largest and coldest region, forest fires have already ravaged an area larger than Portugal this summer.

In the hardest-hit areas, local authorities have called for additional resources and economic support from Moscow to deal with the situation.

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