MOSCOW, July 29. /TASS/. Russia’s task force of firefighters dealing with wildfires will be extended in order to swiftly localize and put out blazes, First Deputy Minister of Emergency Situations Alexander Chupriyan told reporters on Monday.
"The Minister of Emergency Situations has made a decision on increasing the task force, namely the group of the Unified System of Prevention and Elimination of Emergency Situations. This concerns the Federal Agency for Forestry, the forces of Russian regions and the Emergencies Ministry. The Emergencies Ministry will bolster both ground and air task forces, and plans are being drawn up to use aviation, firefighters and rescuers," he said.
Earlier, the Aerial Forest Protection Service reported that the task force of firefighters would be increased to 4,000 people. "These forces and means are not enough. Only in three regions the task force should bring together nearly 15,000 people," the first deputy minister said. "The task in the near future is to localize and extinguish fires," he added.
According to Chupriyan, the firefighting efforts should be stepped up. "Currently, some 3 mln hectares of the taiga are on fire, there are nearly 500 hotbeds of fire and there is an upward trend. Just several days ago this was 2 mln hectares and now this is 3 mln hectares," he explained.
The deputy minister confirmed that the ongoing wildfires are not posing any threat to the settlements and economic facilities, but people are suffering from smoke, which spreads to thousands of kilometers. As a result, the living conditions have worsened and more people have been seeking medical assistance and this has also disrupted flights at the airports.
The efforts to extinguish fires in hard-to-reach areas, which have affected hundreds of settlements, are costly, he said, noting: "The citizens there have been crying for help, and no economic reasons should affect the provision of this assistance.".