MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) — Forest fires in southeastern Russia have killed seven people, including a child, with officials evacuating hundreds of residents from stricken areas, Russian media reported.
News agencies quoted the Emergency Ministry as saying an IL-76 water bomber aircraft had dumped more than 160 tonnes on 5,000 hectares of fires fanned by high temperatures and winds.
Oleg Bogomolov, governor of Kurgan region, told NTV television that firefighters had been battling the blaze in four villages only to find that a fifth had been razed.
One elderly woman told NTV rescuers came too late to her village to evacuate residents.
Pelageya Germanova, a woman in her fifies, said her husband had died as he could not walk. “I felt my feet were already on fire and my eyes felt like they were full of sand,” she said, hunched on her hospital bed.
“I left him and said goodbye. But he told me: ‘Polya, don’t leave me.”‘
Officials, joined at the scene by Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu, said the fires were being brought under control.
Interfax news agency quoted an Emergency Ministry official as saying that more than 400 hectares of forest fires were raging in neighbouring Chelyabinsk region.