MOSCOW, August 3 (Itar-Tass) — The numerical strength of the fire-fighting forces, who work to fight forest and peat bog fires in Russia, went up by 5,000 people, according to the Ministry of Emergency Situations. So, already 18,500 people are already combating the fires. The area of burnt forests has also increased from ten million hectares to 11-12 million hectares from the start of the week. The strongest fires are raging in Central Siberia.
“Certainly, the involvement of fire-fighting forces and machinery is needed for the protection of settlements. But this factor will not reduce the fire area, because the time is missed hopelessly,” the Novye Izvestia daily quoted head of the Greenpeace of Russia fire-fighting program Grigory Kuksin as saying. The state authorities also cannot diminish the smog in the cities. “The fire situation changes every day depending from the direction of wind. The smog has enveloped Omsk, Tomsk, veils Khabarovsk, Yakutsk from time to time and Novosibirsk sometimes,” he said. The fires can subside only in case of long rains, Kuksin said.
It started raining in Kemerovo on Thursday, but Yakutsk and Tomsk are wrapped in a thick smoke from the fires, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily reported. Tomsk, which has been suffocating from the smog for the whole last week, is waiting for the coming of the cold front. The situation is getting worse, because the weathermen forecast no rains until the third decade of August. The regional hospitals were put on high alert and are getting ready for a major inflow of patients. The runways are not operational. The city residents are trying not to leave their homes. However, the real scale of the natural disaster in the Tomsk Region is unclear, because the Tomsk authorities conceal the accurate information from the federal authorities.