10 Jul 2024 20:24

Area affected by wildfires in Russia up 50% to over 3.5 million ha in 2024 - minister Kurenkov

MOSCOW. July 10 (Interfax) - The total area of land through which wildfires have swept in Russia increased by 50% year-on-year in 2024, Russian Emergency Situations Minister Alexander Kurenkov said.

"And while the number of [wildfires] is down 30% from last year, the area passed by fire, in contrast, increased by half," Kurenkov said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Since the beginning of this year, almost 6,000 outbreaks of wildfires on a total area of more than 3.5 million hectares have been recorded in Russia, he said.

Today, over 500 forest fires are active in Russia on more than one million hectares of land Kurenkov said, citing information published by Avialesokhrana, the Russian federal aerial forest protection service.

"Out of all of them, only 62, a modest 12%, have been contained," he said.

As many as 15 forest fires are active in the vicinity of residential areas, he said, adding that the forces of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry are working to protect residential communities from fire hazard.

The fire outlook remains unfavorable, as a number of regions have been going through hot and dry weather periods, he said. High levels of fire danger are still present on the map, he said.

One Beriev Be-200ES amphibious aircraft and two Mil Mi-8 helicopters each were deployed well in advance to two Russian regions, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and Trans-Baikal Territory, he said. In total, over 6,000 personnel, 600 pieces of automotive equipment and 50 aerial vehicles have been mobilized to help put out wildfires, Kurenkov said.