Russia is among the nations facing increasingly harsh natural disasters, such as the massive wildfires in the eastern Siberian region of Yakutia. An RT crew joined a group of firefighters doing their best to contain the blazes.
Yakutia is a sparsely populated part of Russia, prone to experiencing long periods of dry weather in summertime. This creates the conditions for massive and difficult-to-control wildfires. This year the threat emerged in mid-spring and, over the months, became quite devastating.
Despite all efforts to contain and douse the flames, some 37,000 square kilometers are affected at the moment. Several villages had to be evacuated before being obliterated. Many people living in parts of Yakutia and neighboring regions have also suffered from smoke inhalation and other hazards affecting their communities.
RT’s Dmitry Pauk teamed up with a crew of firefighters in Yakutia, who said their resources have been stretched thin by the sheer size of the disaster. The larger fires, which pose a greater threat, get the priority allocations of manpower and equipment. Brigades dealing with smaller ones have to make the best of what they have.
The crew that welcomed the RT crew is really low-tech, walking on foot in search of smoke and using shovels and manual backpack pumps where necessary. This intensive effort is usually enough to tackle flames on the ground. But there is always the danger of fire spreading across treetops, where it is fanned by the wind, becoming a much bigger hazard.
The destruction from the wildfires can be felt far from Yakutia. This week officials in Yekaterinburg reported that smoke from the Eastern Siberian region had traveled all the way to the major city in the Urals, a 3,000-kilometer journey westward, with the winds.
The Russian emergencies ministry said on Monday it had sent more people and hardware to Yakutia. There are now 4,070 people and 585 pieces of heavy firefighting equipment deployed on the ground there. The military is lending a helping hand, too, sending trucks, military engineering vehicles and personnel to assist the civilian authorities.
Wildfires in Russia and other nations are becoming a bigger challenge, as climate change tends to make some natural disasters more serious with each passing year. California recorded the biggest single wildfire in the state’s history last week. Greece and Turkey are each currently waging difficult battles against fires.
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