Russian village burns to ground in wildfire sparked by trash-burning local

  Russian village burns to ground in wildfire sparked by trash-burning local

29 April 2017

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Russia –   Rescuers have managed to save all the residents of a Russian village before the settlement located on an island in Irkutsk Region burned to the ground. The spread of wildfires across Siberia has prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency.

Hundreds of people were trapped in the village of Bubnovka surrounded by water as a massive fire was ripping through their homes. Luckily for some 435 residents, local Emergencies Ministry staff were conducting anti-flood drills in the area and rapidly reacted to the incident.

Responding the distress call, they rushed to the scene to evacuate the villagers. Using an air cushion rescue boat, the responders brought people to safety. No one was harmed.

The Russian Emergency Ministry has blamed both human and natural factors for the fire. In a statement, it said one of the locals was burning garbage near his house in Bubnovka and the fire got out of control due to strong wind. It then spread to his house, then neighboring homes, and then the forest. At least 59 buildings ultimately burned down. Earlier, the local governor’s office said there had been a total of 86 houses in the village, suggesting that all of them had been destroyed.

Four other people were also discovered to have caused fires in the Irkutsk region over the past 24 hours, the ministry added. Three were also burning trash on their land, while one was performing unspecified work using an open flame.

All have been fined and investigations have been launched.

“It was impossible to bring additional [firefighting] forces because of the fact that Bubnovka is located on the island. Gusty winds contributed to the spread of fire,” the governor’s office said.

The Investigative Committee, however, has opened a criminal case to see if any negligence was involved.

“According to the investigation, the fire occurred on the territory of the non-residential sector in the village of Bubnovka in the Kirensky district. Because of the strong wind, the fire spread to the entire village,” authorities said in a statement, adding that they will also assess “the actions of officials of the [local] administration.”

The recent spread of wildfires in Siberia has prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency across the entire federal district.

“We are introducing an emergency regime for all government bodies and forces of the Unified Russian System for Preventing and Eliminating Emergencies in the Siberian Federal District,” the head of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry, Vladimir Puchkov, announced Friday.

The state of emergency had already been declared in Irkutsk Region, as three separate areas of the region were suffering from massive wildfires.

According to the Emergencies Ministry, as a result of the suspected careless handling of the fires, the flames spread to residential houses and buildings in five settlements, destroying at least 78 houses and a convenience store.

Meanwhile, in Zabaykalsky Region, the area of forest fires increased to at least 643 hectares, according to the Emergencies Ministry. Overall fires in Siberia are now ravaging almost 1,500 hectares, according to the Aerial Forest Protection Service Agency, which deals with fire aviation and rescue efforts.

“Almost 1,500 hectares of forest are burning on the territory of Siberia,” including Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and Zabaykalsky regions, as well as Tuva and Buryatia republics, the federal agency said.

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