The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has sent the army to fight the forest fires burning across cast expanses of Siberia for days. The forest fire has enveloped entire cities in black smoke. Environmentalists have given warnings that the adverse effects will not be confined only to Siberia. They have warned that the fire could accelerate global warming.
The authorities have said that about 3m hectares of land in the centre and east of the country were on fire on Wednesday. The smoke of the fire has affected small settlements as well as cities in Western Siberia and the Altai region, and also the Urals such as Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg. The smoke has disrupted air travel as well.
Kremlin’s press service had told Russian media that, “After reviewing a report from the emergency situations minister, Putin instructed the ministry of defence to join the effort to extinguish the fires.” Interfax news agency reported that around 2,700 firefighters are busy tackling the fires. One of the worst affected places is the Krasnoyarsk region. Defence ministry has said that 10 planes and 10 helicopters have been sent to take part in the operation.
The Kremlin press service has also said that armed forces in the badly hit Irkutsk region have been put on high alert. However, they did not provide any further details. Russia’s federal forestry agency said that the fires were triggered by dry thunderstorms in temperatures exceeding 30C (86F). The fires were spread by strong winds.
Russia has declared a state of emergency in five regions. Residents have uploaded content on social media showing the destruction of the fires. The majority of the fires are in remote or inaccessible areas. The authorities had decided to extinguish the fires if the estimated damage exceeded the cost of the operation.