Russia wildfires cover above 21,500 ha

Russia wildfires cover above 21,500 ha

29 July 2011

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Russia — The total land area ablaze in Russia has increased drastically over the past day as the government tries to fight the ongoing wildfires, according to the Russian emergencies ministry.

The emergencies ministry officials have said that some 3,000 hectares of land has been covered by wildfires since Wednesday, making the total area of burning land more than 21,500 hectares, AFP reported on Thursday.

According to environmental campaigners, with the large number of wildfires producing tons of smoke this year, Russians should expect the return of the noxious smog which enveloped Moscow last summer, making the environmental disaster even more horrifying, but no signs of it have been detected around the city so far, reports say.

The reports warn that the fires have covered Russia’s Far East, and southern, central, as well as northern provinces.

Experts say the temperature in Moscow has risen to 40 degrees Centigrade as a result of the numerous fires. The country’s meteorological office has predicted a sharp drop by the end of the week in some areas, but it has also warned that the residents of Volgograd (former Stalingrad) should expect tropical heat of up to 43 degrees Centigrade.

The Russian government has launched a public awareness campaign trying to make people aware of the fact that if they “drop a cigarette in the forest,” or “leave their barbeques burning,” they could “burn down the country.”

In May, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered officials to prevent what environmentalists, including Greenpeace, have warned will be a repeat of last year’s wildfire chaos, when wildfires spread out of control, killing dozens, burning down thousands of houses and threatening military and nuclear installations.

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