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Over 100 Russian villages engulfed by smoke as forest fires spread

Published July 22,2021
More and more Russian villages and cities are suffering from palls of thick smoke as fierce forest fires rage in the eastern part of the country.

Over 105 settlements and the city of Yakutsk, the capital of the Siberian Republic of Sakha, are affected by the smoke, the authorities said Thursday.

Air samples taken should soon shed light on how toxic the smog is.

Clouds of smokes have spread as far as the Sakhalin Island, over 1,700 kilometres away, the Siberian Times news site reported.

Images show dense fog blocking out the sunlight on the streets of Yakutsk, a city of 280,000 residents.

Inhabitants began questioning information from the authorities according to which many of the fires have been put out. "Ok, everything extinguished, but why is the city in smoke?" one user wrote in a comment.

On Thursday, the authorities counted 227 wildfires in Sakha. According to data from the Aerial Forest Protection Service, firefighters were at work was in a total area of about 666,000 hectares, while the fires were simply left to burn in 820,000 hectares in unpopulated wilderness areas.

Nationwide, the fires have spread over a total area of 1.7 million hectares, according to official estimates. Environmental activists believe that 3 million hectares are affected, however.