Authorities warn of toxic smoke amid severe forest fires in Russia

Moscow, July 1, (dpa/GNA) - The forest fires raging in Russia are increasingly becoming a danger to people as the authorities of the particularly affected Siberian region of Yakutia in the east of the country warned on Sunday of toxic smoke in more than 50 villages.

The wind was also driving the smoke from the fires into the city of Yakutsk. Residents of the affected areas should therefore wear protective masks outdoors and seal doors and windows with damp cloths to prevent smoke from entering their homes.

Over the weekend, the situation worsened even more after the fire brigade had previously announced successes in extinguishing the fire.

According to the Civil Defence, there were more than 180 fires in Yakutia, also known as the Republic of Sakha, on Sunday. The emergency services spoke of a "difficult situation."

According to the report, about 745,000 hectares of forest area were in flames.
Pictures showed firefighters combating the sources of the fire, but also sleeping in the grass during breaks from exhaustion.

The authorities have declared a state of emergency, but residential areas are currently not at risk, they said. Everything is being done to prevent the flames from spreading to houses.

Fires are also raging in other parts of Russia. According to the forestry protection agency, more than 300 fires covering an area of 853,000 hectares were extinguished on Sunday night.

More than 6,000 firefighters and many fire-fighting aircraft were deployed across the country.

Every year, huge numbers of trees go up in flames in the largest country on earth in terms of surface area, with its taiga forest belt, which is important for the global climate.

According to the Russian Emergencies Ministry, there are slightly fewer fires this year than in 2020.

While some regions are waiting for rain, other areas of Russia are struggling with too much water: In the Khabarovsk region near the border with China, more than 100 people from two villages were brought to safety on Saturday because a river overflowed its banks, according to authorities. The water has receded in the meantime.