May 18, 2023

Russia is on Fire


Russia is on Fire
Firemen smother fire in Orekhovo-Zuyevo, Moscow region. Mikhail Mironov, Commons:RIA Novosti

Wildfires have been raging in Russia for months. Eight Regions have declared states of emergency. According to Agentstvo and Greenpeace, 5 million hectares are burning, comparable to the land mass of Slovakia or Denmark. At the same time, authorities underestimate the data on fires by a factor of eight, and for some regions, official data is underestimated by a factor of 200. According to satellite imagery, fires have consumed 1.5 million hectares in Omsk Oblast, while authorities have only admitted to the burning of 7.7 thousand hectares. 

Nastoyashee Vremya reports that the most difficult situation with fires is in the Urals and Siberia. 60 wildfires were recorded in Kurgan Oblast, where authorities had to evacuate residents of several villages and towns in the suburbs of Kurgan, the region's capital. And it is not only firefighters who are involved in extinguishing fires – military and volunteers are also in the mix.

In Sverdlovsk Oblast, more than 60 fires are raging, and this is the second wave of wildfires the region has seen since the beginning of the year. At the end of April, 178 buildings burned down in the region. 

The authorities attribute most fires to careless public attitudes to fire and how hot weather and wind contribute to its rapid spread. According to Greenpeace, the wildfires are also due to a lack of financing, specialists, equipment, and cooperation between different regions.

At the same time, according to the Telegram channel of journalist Dmitry Kolezev, residents of affected regions are looking for a Ukrainian connection in the fires and are actively looking for saboteurs.

In Irbit (Sverdlovsk Oblast), local residents were madly hunting for a gray pickup truck, and posts appeared on the social network VKontakte saying that 70 cars had come from Ukraine to “fire missiles” at forests. Yet, given that Russia's border with Ukraine is about 2,200 kilometers away, the baseless rumors demonstrate the country's growing and irrational obsession with spies and saboteurs.

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