Russia Evacuates 2 Villages in Siberia Because of Wildfires

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
August 8, 2021 Updated: August 8, 2021

MOSCOW—Russian authorities started to evacuate two villages in a vast region of Siberia where 155 active forest fires burned Sunday.

A dozen villages in northeastern Siberia’s Sakha-Yakutia republic were threatened by the fires, according to the regional task force dealing with the emergency. Local authorities were moving the residents of two villages, Kalvitsa and Kharyyalakh, to other inhabited areas as crews totaling 3,600 people worked to contain about half of the blazes.

On Saturday, flames destroyed 31 houses and eight maintenance buildings in another village, Byas-Kuel, and about 400 residents were evacuated, local officials said.

Russia Wildfires
A firefighter stands at the scene of forest fire near Kyuyorelyakh village at Gorny Ulus area west of Yakutsk, in Russia, on Aug. 7, 2021. (Ivan Nikiforov/AP Photo)

Yakutia governor Aysen Nikolayev ordered officials to clear fire trails around the endangered settlements of dead wood and fallen trees. Yakutia’s government website had stated earlier that Nikolayev had a deforestation of areas around the endangered villages, but his spokespeople said it was a mistake and there has been no such order.

Experts blame the worsening fire situation on a 2007 decision to disband a federal aviation network that spotted and combatted wildfires. The network’s assets were transferred to regional authorities, a much-criticized move that led to the fire-spotting force’s rapid decline.

The forests that cover huge areas of Russia make identifying new fires a challenge.

Russia Wildfires
An aerial of the Byas-Kuel village after a wild fire, in Russia Far East, on Aug. 8, 2021. (NewsYkt via AP)
The Associated Press
The Associated Press