Severe forest fires in Russia’s Siberian provinces
20 May 2011
published by Interfax
Russia — Severe forest fires were burning in Russia’s Siberian provinces with firefighters battling blazes in isolated mountain or steppe terrain, Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations (RMES) said in a Friday statement. Two regions – the Yakutia province and districts near the Amur River in Russia’s Far East – were the hardest hit, according to RMES satellite imagery. More than 7,000 firefighters had deployed to sometimes extremely remote regions to battle more than 450 blazes currently burning in tundra, forest, and plains terrain. The fires covered an aggregate area of 66,000 square hectares, or 660 square kilometres, the Interfax news agency reported.
Most of the fires been ignited by lightning and at present no areas of human settlement appeared threatened by flames, according to the report. Russia’s massive Siberian region contains one of the world’s largest woodlands. Fires are common during Spring and early summer as drying timber or steppe grass is struck by lightning from thunderstorms. Fires can ignite hundreds of kilometres from the nearest roads or railways, making firefighter response difficult and at times impossible.