The emergency measure is valid for at least two weeks for the entire Republic of Karelia. The fires in Russia are raging on an area roughly equivalent to that of the state of Salzburg.
Because of severe forest fires in Russia the authorities have now declared a state of emergency for areas in the north of the country on the border with Finland. This will apply to the entire Republic of Karelia for at least the next two weeks, said the regional civil protection minister Andrei Karpilovich on Wednesday according to the Interfax agency.
The residents are forbidden to enter the forests. According to the authorities, 33 forest fires are currently raging in Karelia on an area of around 7200 hectares – that’s roughly the size of half of Graz. In Russia there is now a state of emergency due to severe fires in ten regions.
Shot at clouds
The Siberian region of Yakutia (Republic of Sakha) in the east of the country is hardest hit. According to data from the forest protection authority on Wednesday, the fires there spread once more. An area of 745,000 hectares covered by fire is currently being extinguished – more than the day before. This roughly corresponds to the area of the federal state of Salzburg. Just as large are the fire areas in Yakutia, in which no firefighters are currently extinguishing. Extinguishing work is waived for fires in remote areas, for example.
Because no precipitation is in sight at first, an Antonov An-26 aircraft fired at clouds to rain them down, according to the authorities. After being bombarded with special cartridges, silver iodide is released, which leads to a chemical reaction in the clouds and thus creates a rain front. Media images have been showing for days how emergency services fight against flames in forests. Many villages and the capital Yakutsk are in thick smoke.
Emergency in western Canada
The authorities had previously declared a state of emergency in western Canada. “We have reached a critical point,” said British Columbia Provincial Public Security Minister Mike Farnworth on Tuesday (local time). In emergency conditions, the authorities can order mass evacuations and set up protective devices for people who have been brought to safety.
On Tuesday, authorities ordered 5,700 more people to leave their homes because of the danger of the forest fires. In western Canada and on the US west coast, severe forest fires have been raging for weeks. There are currently around 300 active fires in British Columbia, and more than 3000 firefighters are working against the flames.
The authorities expect the situation to worsen in the coming days – according to the weather forecasts, it should remain hot and dry. According to Chapman, around 3,000 square kilometers of land have already been burned by the fires – an area about three times the size of what is common at this time of the year.
More than 80 major forest fires are currently raging in the USA as well. Worst hit is the state of Oregon, where the emergency services are fighting the huge “bootleg” fire. The fire brigade operations manager Rob Allen described the major fire on Tuesday as a “monster”. Fighting this fire is “a marathon, not a sprint”.