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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spreading Fires Claim 6 Lives

Stifling temperatures continued to plague Russia on Wednesday as firefighters struggled to put out enormous forest fires raging throughout Siberia, the Urals and the Far East.


Over the past month, a total of 7,050 fires have been registered in nine regions ranging from Sverdlovsk in the Urals to Khaborovsk in the Far East, said Karl Smolikov, a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry. Some 206,172 hectares of land have been consumed by the blazes, he added.


Smolikov said that over 5,000 firemen with 44 planes and 887 fire engines have been battling with the flames.


Although the Emergency Situations Ministry said it had not yet calculated the cost of the damage caused by the fires, Itar-Tass, citing anonymous ministry officials, said the fires had caused more than 3 billion rubles ($600,000) damage in the past two days.


Six people -- including three children -- died when fires ripped into the village of Ulbugai in the Buryatia region near the border with China on Tuesday, destroying tens of buildings and forcing nearly 200 villagers to flee to nearby towns, according to the Emergency Situations Ministry.


As of Wednesday morning, the fire was reported to be heading toward the northern part of Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia, said Smolikov, who called the situation "unpredictable."


An employee of the Buryatia district administration in Ulan-Ude, however, said the fire had been extinguished Tuesday. "It was a very serious situation not too long ago, but the air is clean again now," Galina Bolukhatova, secretary to the administrator, said by telephone.