Russia's wildfires largest in recorded history

Friday 20 Aug 2021

Russia’s 2021 wildfires are already its largest in the history of satellite observations, burning across 17.08 million hectares of land, the Greenpeace Russia environmental group has said. The new record beats the previous record set in 2012, when fires burned 17 million hectares of land across Russia, and comes with weeks left to go in a devastating wildfire season.

Grigory Kuksin, the head of Greenpeace Russia’s wildfire unit, linked this year’s unprecedented blazes to the intensifying effects of climate change that are making Russia’s huge expanses of forest drier, hotter and increasingly prone to wildfires. “The unprecedented size of fire-damaged areas is partially the result of climate change, and the fires themselves are partly driving climate change,” he said in the group’s statement published Tuesday.

Environmentalists also place the blame for the fires’ rapid spread on Russia’s firefighting policy, which allows regions to ignore blazes if the cost of fighting fires outweighs the expected damages, as well as a widespread lack of funding for extinguishing efforts.

According to official data, some 170 fires are currently burning across Russia, from the Kostroma region in the west to Magadan in the Far East. Nearly 100 of these fires are located in the republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in northeastern Siberia, the country’s largest and coldest region — the largest of which is on track to become the largest single wildfire ever recorded in human history.

Siberia's wildfires alone are now larger than the rest of the world's blazes combined.

Source: themoscowtimes

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