Russia brings in troops to battle wildfires

At least 30 people die in three days as hundreds of blazes reduce villages to ash in the country's hottest summer since records began

Russia's armed forces mobilised yesterday to fight hundreds of wildfires that have wiped out villages and vast areas of woodland. Officials said the worst blazes were under control, but evacuations continued. The fires have killed at least 30 people in the past three days, officials said, and they are breaking out as Moscow and other regions of the country suffer their hottest summer since records began 130 years ago.

All 300 of the army's fire trucks have been dispatched to help fight blazes across at least 14 of the country's 83 regions, including outside Moscow. The Emergencies Ministry said in a website statement that "the situation with fires... is under control", due to preventative measures being taken. But state television reported that in some regions up to 20 new fires were being registered every day. More than 10,000 firefighters were among the 250,000 people involved in tackling the fires, officials said. In the industrial city of Togliatti, in central Russia, 2,000 children were evacuated from a summer camp as a state of emergency was declared, the state Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Nationwide, fire has destroyed 1,200 homes – thought to be mostly provincial village dwellings. Thousands of people have been forced to flee as blazes reduced houses to smouldering ruins and filled the air with smog and ash. The Voronezh and Nizhny Novgorod provinces are the worst affected. An Associated Press reporter in Voronezh city, which has 850,000 people and is 300 miles south of Moscow, saw half a village reduced to ash, and watched as stunned locals sifted through the dust trying to salvage possessions. Residents pooled what little food they had – mainly potatoes and carrots – to ensure that no one starved.

The fires that encircled Voronezh city earlier last week were not visible yesterday, as officials reported they had been brought under control. However, thick plumes of smoke from distant blazes were drifting into the city centre, where hotels housed some of the newly created refugees. Five people, including one firefighter, were killed by wildfires in Voronezh, and six residents and a firefighter died when a fire swept through the village of Mokhovoye in the Moscow region. The other deaths occurred in the Nizhny Novgorod, Ryazan and Lipetsk regions, all south or east of Moscow.

On Friday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Verkhnyaya Vereya, a village in the Nizhny Novgorod region 300 miles east of Moscow, where all 341 homes were burned to the ground, and where five locals were killed. He promised residents 200,000 roubles (£4,210) each in compensation. The village, one of three hamlets destroyed around Nizhny Novgorod – Russia's fifth-largest city – looked like a ghost town coated in gray ash.

The region's governor, Valery Shantsev, said in televised remarks yesterday that the situation there remained grave because thick smoke was preventing aerial dousing of the flames. On Friday, the Kremlin mobilised the army to help as fires raged over 214,136 acres of woodland and peat bog.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Proust as Captain Laure Berthaud in 'Spiral'
tvReview: Gritty, engaging and well-acted - it’s a wonder France’s biggest TV export isn’t broadcast on a more mainstream channel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Carmichael in still from Madam Bovary trailer
film
News
i100
Sport
Serena Williams holds the Australian Open title
sportAustralia Open 2015 final report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links