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Wildfires rage through Russia’s Far East

Firefighters battle the flames in Russia's Yakutia region
Firefighters battle the flames in Russia's Yakutia region

Yakutia, a Republic in Russia’s Siberia, is currently dealing with over 350,000 hectares of fires, the regional operational headquarters has reported.

The fires, which have devastated vegetation all over the region, are also in the vicinity of eight different populated areas, and will devastate homes.

"As of the beginning of the day, 105 forest fires are active in Yakutia, covering an area of 350,000 hectares. A total of 1,461 people and 82 pieces of equipment are involved in extinguishing the fires," said the operational headquarters’ statement, published on the evening of July 2.

The federal government has declared a state of emergency in Yakutia.

Many Russian regions, including Yakutia, are hit by wildfires every year. Although many are caused due to global warming and increased heat, many of these fires are caused by human negligence, particularly as Russians begin the common practice of having barbecues in the countryside. Another cause is the popular practice of burning dry grass, despite it being illegal. The burning of dry grass is common in areas where logging is a lucrative business.

Peat fires are another cause of concern. During the winter, peat fires may smoulder underground for months without end. Once the snow melts, they can become fully-fledged fires, especially in extremely hot and dry weather.

Large wildfires have also been seen in other regions of the Far East, including Tyva and Zabaykalsky Region. In Tyva, Head of the Republic Vladislav Khovalyg declared a state of emergency following 1,700 hectares of forest fires. In Zabaykalsky Region, there are currently 84 fires, burning over a total area of 181,000 hectares.