Russia — Forest and brush fires have flared up again in southern Russia, killing two people and burning down nearly 500 houses and buildings, the emergencies ministry said Thursday.
Strong winds stoked fires that burnt 474 constructions, including 342 houses, in about 20 villages in the region of Volgograd and Saratov, a ministry spokesman told the RIA Novosti news agency.
“The region of of Volgograd was the worst hit, with 450 buildings burnt down including 342 houses. In the Saratov region, 24 bujildings were destroyed by fire, including 14 houses,” the spokesman said.
With the emergencies ministry warning the fires risked spreading to other southern regions, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered authorities to mobilise all means to fight them, news agencies quoted the Kremlin as saying.
The latest fires claimed the life of an elderly man in his seventies and a woman also in her seventies in two villages, a local official told the Interfax news agency.
He said that 14 people were also wounded and hospitalised in two other villages in the same region.
About 150 people had to be evacuated after losing their homes, according to the emergencies ministry, which decided to dispatch three aircraft to fight the fires.
Although temperatures have come down in Moscow since an unprecedented heatwave this summer, in recent days they have topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the southern region of Volgograd.
Forest fires ravaged about a million hectares in Russia in recent months, destroying whole villages and leaving more than 50 people dead, according to official tallies. Fires also threatened several nuclear plants.
The emergency alert was lifted on August 23 in the last of the seven regions affected by the fires.